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August 12 - September 23, 2006 at M.J. Higgins Gallery, Downtown

by Roberta Carasso

James Scanlon, "Orion Nebula," 2006.

Brian Stotesbery, "Disarray," 2006.

When artists work with light, inevitably they deal with darkness, shadows, illusion, self-illumination and images that glow, change rapidly and appear differently from moment to moment.  In “The Light Show” seven artists--Jeremy Corbell, Jon Higgins, James Scanlon,  Melissa Sims, Sean Sobczak, Brian Stotesbery, and Jerico Woggon--extend their palette to include light as an artistic medium.  LED, neon, incandescent, and black light are among the materials used.  Some pieces are highly technical, requiring sophisticated computer programming; others use light for effect and illumination; while others are paintings or photographs that capture the illusion of light.

Light art needs darkness and entering a dimly lit gallery is cool, especially on a hot summer day.  Add to this that M.J. Higgins is also a furniture gallery, with an atmosphere that encourages social interaction, especially with sofas strategically placed to look at the art.  Sit back, relax and look at Sobczak’s large, illuminated suspended sculpture, a six-foot tall, red sea horse that glows from within.  The artist’s emphasis is on the alien world of plants, insects, and ocean life.  Using steel wire, reflective fabrics and various types of illumination devices, he works with curved forms, rich textures and warm colors to guide the light and create a dreamlike, surreal experience.

Stotesbery’s art is based on his extensive knowledge of electronics.  Using all sorts of light emitting devices, including lasers, his work is both mechanical and performance.  Repetitive light arrangements, fueled by microprocessors and programmed to create random patterns of small light bulbs, have a hypnotic effect.  Woggon considers the contradiction of black light.  As a painter and installation artist, Woggon creates an environment of dark illumination that not only affects a mood, but also dialogues with the other light art in the gallery. Corbell is an emerging artist, who works in photography and film.  He presented two series--”Death and Life” and “New Works.”  Within light boxes, photographs are embedded in resin.  Transparent panels of old windows and doors combined with a DVD and a slide show periodically self-start to play a film of his trip to India.

Higgins’ palette is glass of different gages, with varying gas producing colors and light.  Combined with assorted materials, Higgins creates sculptures that radiate light upon contrasting surfaces of the various materials he incorporates in his art.  Scanlon paints a series of images hung on the wall.  They are about light and the light effects of constellations, nebulae, and other cosmological formations.  Using jewels for stars, the paintings glisten with a sense of deep space.  Sims has a passion for neon lights, and includes their bright, often garish presence in her paintings.  She interweaves florescent signs with scenes reminiscent of childhood memories of TV programs. In "Kay-ohhh" Sims depicts two views of a prize fight, framed by an illuminated "Entrance" neon sign, as the fighters beat the daylights out of each other.

With the various light technologies that are today readily accessible, this exhibition demonstrates that aesthetic experimentation on the part of painters, photographers, sculptors and installation artists is opening up new expressive possibilities using light as the subject.

Sean Sobzcak, "Jellyfish," 2006.

Melissa Sims, "Kay-Ohhh," 2006.