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New York Times Review

ART IN REVIEW - September 20, 2002
By Ken Johnson

Missy Stevens: 'A Year of Change' & Prue Venables: 'Objects'
Nancy Margolis Gallery
560 Broadway, at Prince Street
Through Oct. 5

Using needle, thread and beads, Missy Stevens makes tiny, tightly knit tapestries of riveting optical and material richness. With jewellike colors, satiny and nubby textures, intricately patterned borders and glass-bead fringes, her works look as if they were made by an inspired medieval artisan. Her images may seem whimsically simple-minded, but as in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, formal ingenuity and heartfelt moods ranging from ecstasy to grief give the work a complex depth that belies the seemingly naïve surface.

   
Show Installation at Nancy Margolis Gallery
In "Sanctuary," a semitransparent female figure overlays a pastoral landscape. Dogs and birds race around the beige border, fringed by translucent red beads. The cosmic symbolism verges on dopey, but the way Ms. Stevens uses thread like a painter to create shades of blue and green, gradations of light and the see-through great goddess will keep you with your nose close to the glass for some time.

Ms. Stevens is not above more mundane subjects. "Sampler" represents the recent break-up of her marriage, emotional confusion registered by distressed masks (Ensor comes to mind) tumbling across a luscious, rusty-orange field. A funny-sad diptych memorializes her cat, which looks smugly innocent in a formal portrait opposite the image of a dead chipmunk under a drooping daisy, a victim, presumably, of feline sport.

Also on view are ceramic works by Prue Venables. Bowls, bottles, colanders and other domestic implements in muted, two-tone glazes have a classical serenity that nicely complements Ms. Stevens's busy quirkiness.

© Published: September 20, 2002 - Art in Review


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