For years, I’ve admired Leah Craig’s pastel-colored portrait and Janet Greek’s detailed psychological tableaus. Their styles and focuses are different, but they’ve both done figurative oils on canvas, so their work was linked in my mind. The pairing of the artists by Catherine Borg in her role as Winchester Cultural Center Gallery curator seemed to validate my intuition, and I looked forward to seeing the exhibit, titled drift, to make the connection clearer. Here, however, Craig forsakes warm bodies for communication satellites—having collided or otherwise broken apart—drifting through space, while Greek lets lines and colors fade into the white of the paper, leaving her lone figure adrift in the less-than-solid environs of McCarran Airport and Neonopolis.
- Leah Craig & Janet Greek’s drift
- Through August 7
- Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, 455-7340.
Ostensibly, Craig is interested in “investigating how information is used in mass communication.” But a clue to the more heartfelt meaning of her work may be found in the somewhat narrative “Dialogue,” where two Transformer-like satellites have collided and pieces are flying off in all directions like bits of information. Craig’s intuition has led her to use communication satellites as a kind of metonymic representation of something essentially human—our need and ability to communicate, which, not tool-making or language, is what distinguishes us from our nearest relatives, the apes. These cold, metallic objects might be coming apart, but they’re still talking.
Greek wants to represent “people fluctuating within their surroundings,” and she achieves this brilliantly by fading out and rendering some areas in detail while leaving others indicated by a few sketchy lines. Several of the works feature an isolated woman walking toward or riding the moving sidewalk at McCarran and, in another, riding the escalator at Neonopolis. The suggestion of smooth mechanical movement adds to the sense of drift. In another piece, the figure is seen from above and almost disappears amid the strict geometry of perspective lines and checkerboard floor patterns. But what struck me most about the work was an evocation of an eerie sense of silence—a feeling of aloneness in a cold universe.
Although media and subject matter now make it harder to connect these gifted, thoughtful artists, there is common ground: their poignant awareness of the human need to be in touch coupled with the fear that we are alone.