Fine Art

Left of Center’s all-women exhibit ‘A Room of One’s Own’ pairs art and text

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Lolita Develay’s “Future Primitive.”
Photo: Yasmina Chavez
Dawn-Michelle Baude

'A Room of One's Own'

Three stars

A Room of One’s Own Through March 31; Tuesday-Friday, noon-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; free. Left of Center Art Gallery, 702-647-7378.

It’s hard to put your finger on it, but it’s there—a celebratory self-help vibe pulsing at Left of Center Art Gallery. Pairing 14 writers and 13 visual artists, A Room of One’s Own lauds the freedom of women to make art. Cutouts, collages, paintings, sculptures, mixed media, printmaking, drawing, assemblage, performance and a video seem to almost hold hands with their appointed works of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and inspirational writing.

The women-only show borrows its title from groundbreaking papers delivered in 1928 by Virginia Woolf and published the following year. For the better part of a century, Woolf’s exacting essays on the unholy alliance of poverty, paternalism and the dearth of female creative genius have often been the rallying cry for feminist publications and exhibitions.

Conceptual déjà vu is one potential issue with the show. Another is uneven quality … or is it? If the idea of A Room of One’s Own is to furnish a safe zone where women’s art can be shared with a sympathetic audience, then being a productive female artist/writer is all that’s necessary for inclusion—for the very reasons Woolf articulated. But in other exhibition contexts, rigor, training, awareness of historical precedent and current trends, thoroughgoing knowledge of materials and technique do, in fact, count.

Among the bright spots is Lolita Develay’s “Future Primitive,” a large-format portrait featuring an attractive woman powering up from a floral backdrop, the bemused expression on her face both humorous and poignant. Another noteworthy painting, Elizabeth Blau’s “Glacial Pour,” is an icy blue-white pleasure to see, although its previous Las Vegas exhibitions make it a cheerful acquaintance, not a revelation.

JK Russ’ “Flower Power (R)Evolution” combines wall-sized collage with installation. Russ—an artist whose collages attain mastery—here purposefully obscures the visual field that is her strength to veer in a new direction. Poli Marichal’s digital video, “Sin Fronteras,” is as professional as it is engaging; Bobbie Anne Howell’s intricate paper cutouts mesmerize via psychedelic tropes; and Denise Duarte’s “Unraveling Gender” coils in a decorative umbilical rose. Writers Angela Brommel, Cassandra Keenan, Karen Laing, Heather Lang and Erica Vital-Lazare, among others, deserve a close read.

A Room of One’s Own occasions contemplation of the feminine impulse to artistic creativity. But the basic curatorial premise—linking visual and literary works—is tricky. Results in both categories are mixed, the combos arbitrary. The exhibition is best taken on its own terms: women artists joyfully displaying work for each other. In that, at least, A Room of One’s Own wholly succeeds.

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