Julie S. Graham’s exhibition, If it’s not one thing…, up through March 29 at Kingston Gallery, demonstrates her consistent approach to making formally-driven work that is informed by the aesthetics of forlorn, overlooked settings. Vernacular architecture is a recurrent source of inspiration for Graham, who asks how happenstance may drive or deliver the decorative, and examines the visual effects of neglected spaces.
In the gallery we see a variation on themes in abstraction, including the square format, with a large, impressive grid of works on square paper, larger mixed-media paintings, and photographs of her own paintings taken with a phone camera and filtered with Hipstamatic lenses into square prints. There are also variations on rough edges, seen in the edges of the paper, the borders of the photographs, and in how Graham alters the square shape of many canvases by extending edges with reclaimed pieces of architectural moldings or strips of canvas. She begins many of her mixed media paintings with a guiding structure–again referencing built spaces–such as a grid of spray painted circles, onto which she builds an elaborate surface with paint, spackle, and plaster.
Graham recreates the effect of juxtapositions that evolve out of necessity, such as errant color combinations on abutting apartment buildings, or a pile of tools tangled against a fence for lack of a toolshed. Her background in design developed her keen ability to aesthetically resolve things that do not necessarily belong together, yet share spaces with each other. The exhibition delivers an array of ways that colors, textures, and shapes that may ordinarily lack harmony become, through composing, cropping, and painting, finished works of art.
-Shana Dumont Garr