Janis O’Grady - review, Rent to Own

The exhibition that I have chosen to write about is being shown in the gallery located on the first floor of the VCU Fine Arts Building. It displays the work of four individuals, who graduated from VCU about ten years ago and who are now living and working as artists in New York City.

On entering the gallery, the work of David Duncan is situated on the left hand wall. It consists of three pieces – one digital video and two paintings. The paintings are executed in oil and acrylic on linen and are painted in a precise, clean style. When viewed at close range, they appear somewhat blurry, but become almost photographically clear when viewed from across the room. I admired the paintings, but the video did not hold my attention for very long.

by Rob Conger



Moving around the room, the long wall of the gallery shows works by Rob Conger. This display includes six pieces, all of which were worked in acrylic yarn on canvas mesh. They are worked in the style of hooked rugs but each one is a skillfully rendered portrait. These wall hangings combine the skill of a craftsman in fiber art and the painterly quality of an artist in their subjects. Conger’s choice of subject is interesting - the Index of Good, portraying Fred Rogers and Jane Goodall, seem appropriate but it seems slightly strange to see the Index of Evil and the World’s Strongest Man and Woman made out of something that appears and feels so soft and fluffy.

The next artist is Tim Wilson, who displays two large oil paintings on (52"x 64") canvases. They have an ultra-realistic quality and shine to them, making the viewer believe in the hard plastic material of the subjects. The painting of Big Red is particularly realistic, almost having a trompe l’oeil effect, as the nose appears to stick out from the canvas. The high gloss varnish also enhances the impression of a hard shiny object.

The fourth and final wall displays the work of George Ferrandi. Her installation is a three-dimensional piece, made up of small pictures and sculptural items. She uses a variety of materials including plaster, carved soap, wood, paint, feather boa, pencil and glass. There are images of cats, dogs, geese and a floating girl, as well as drawings of trees and a chair. Part of the installation is a sculptural wash hand basin complete with carved soap, feather pompoms on sticks and a small "hammock" hanging from the wall. I couldn’t help thinking that this would be a cat’s dream bathroom! I did not really understand what the artist was trying to say, but I did enjoy the images and also the overall delicate effect and craftsmanship of the piece.

I enjoyed this exhibition and it has made me curious to know what their art was like when these alumni were attending VCU. It is interesting to note that while I feel that VCU has a tendency to encourage its students to paint and explore an abstract approach to art, three of the four artists exhibiting here are working in a representational and realistic way.