Saturday, July 17, 2010

Power Lines

by Drew Martin

Electrical lines strung between telephone poles are endless perches for birds and super highways for squirrels. Although the average person would say they are unsightly, messy and dangerous, they are, for the observant drawer, a delightful visual treat.

These umbilical cords from the mother-grid, which crisscross the sky, are the ultimate line...a life line, especially when you consider the actual energy and information they relay. While some are as taut as tightropes, others elegantly sag with the gravitational weight of the world.

I have always been fascinated by them, which is why when I saw Tony Ingrisano's Untitled (Lights) (pictured left) at the Allegra LaViola Gallery yesterday, with his entanglement of noodling wires between clustered telephone poles hewn from their vital trunks, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time: the Phantasmorganica show at 179 East Broadway in the lower east side of Manhattan, which is up through the end of July.

Co-curated with Danielle Mund, the exhibit explores various media including photography and video work but favors the line and the power of the line, which, in many of the works, build up with little inky scratches into very strong pieces.

While drawing is something usually considered manageable and politely small (such as the intimate and Dürer-like 6" x 8" Buried Weapons by Casey Jex Smith, pictured right), several of the works scale up quite nicely such as Ingrisano's Untitled (Red and Blue) and entertain the expandability of the medium.

This is the aspect of the show that I found most illuminating because seeing those elemental marks and what they totaled made everything beyond the gallery seem relational, including the doodled wall of the gallery's courtyard and the fragmented nature of that part of the city which culminates in the chaotic harmony of the neighboring Chinatown.