Meg Aubreys MFA thesis show, I Just Live Here, at Gallery Stokes is like a debutante ball: Both serve up white, southern womanhood with a saccharine aftertaste to feed mythologies of place and time.
Aubreys 10 medium-size oil paintings pursue a cast of female characters through prosperity-era, suburban America. In New Tree, two women sit facing each other in spindly patio chairs at a stiff little cafe table. The painting is keyed-up so that the light has an overexposed, sun-drenched quality. We might imagine a shopping center parking lot or mini-mall courtyard behind them, but such context has been removed. Instead, a flat wash of solid sky blue fills the background and middle distance. Just off to the right in the midst of this arid environment, an impossible little tree grows, artificially tied down in an artificial circle of artificially manicured grass.
All the women in Aubreys paintings inhabit similar deserts of suburban precision.
They cross vast parking lots wearing perfect tennis outfits, make nervous cell phone calls, and show off their glinting jewelry under a pitiless sun. They all wear sunglasses. Bottle blond is the hair color of choice.
Aubreys technique in her portraits and figure work is competent but not exceptional. A few heavy-handed brushstrokes on the contours of an arm in New Tree or the suburbanites cheek in the close-up portrait Call Me undermine the paintings' overall structures.
But Aubrey's work comes alive when she allows the landscape to dominate; when the human figure is only a foil for expressing just how empty her suburban landscape is. Like New Tree, several other paintings witness the surgical removal of all architectural structures from the composition. Only monotonous lawns, identical mailboxes and a few other contextual clues remain to let us know where we are. When the human figure disappears entirely, as in Trash Day in which trashcans line an empty street, the effect is truly chilling.
The notion of suburbia as that place where youth and joy go to die a little every day is well-mapped territory. But artists dont break news to us they have insights. Aubreys statement is a promising glimmer that the subject may not yet be exhausted.
Meg Aubrey: I Just Live Here Through Feb. 21. Free. Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., 1-5 p.m. Gallery Stokes, 261 Walker St. 678-770-7812. www.gallerystokes.com.
(Photo courtesy Gallery Stokes)
So $40-$55 million of taxpayer's money is to be spent to add more space to…
Ha, a library with very few "traditional library services"--great idea, if you are an architect…
@ Roxanne Dimacale
Hi, We're looking for kidney donors, Very urgently. B+ve , O+ve, O+ and A+ve with…
Thought-provoking piece ! I was enlightened by the points . Does someone know where I…