A Cluster of Friends in High Places


Friends in High Places” (2011) by Gregory Smith; Copper & Marble, 15" x 29" x 9"
Constellation” (2020) by Carolina Ellenbogen; Acrylic on Canvas, 36” x 36”
Creature” (2020) by Katrin Waite; Acrylic on Canvas, 24” x 24”
Mirage” (2016) by Dublin Durller-Wilson; Acrylic, House Paint on Canvas, 24" x 36"

Approaching the idea of implementing pairings and clusters, we examine curatorial-style and organic arrangements of artworks which we have identified to fit the grander narrative intentions at Ellenbogen Gallery in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the summer of 2020.  Out of the collection comes an unlikely cluster that explores color, both contrasting and monochromatic palettes, themes and more.

The color wheel presents the complex relationships between primary, secondary and tertiary colors in a simple, straightforward process for all to see. The three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, mix together in different, but equal, variations to create secondary colors, orange, green and purple. Further blending opens the door to the unlimited possibilities of all colors in the white light spectrum, of which there are millions. Each secondary color has a primary color counterpart, equal and opposite energies emitted from the combination of two colors within the wheel. Some colors are complementary and some are contrasting.

Gregory Smith; Copper & Marble, 15 x 29 x 9

Using Gregory Smith’s sculpture, Friends In High Places (FIHP), as a starting point, the first cluster featured at Ellenbogen Gallery highlights both 2D and 3D form and the dynamic relationship between the colors orange and blue. In this particular cluster, we introduce paintings from Carolina Ellenbogen, Dublin Durller-Wilson and Katrin Waite.

FIHP is a hand-welded copper sculpture perched on a rotating, marble base and built from many individual organic shapes stacked one over another, leading upwards towards a balanced conclusion. Unapologetic with his burn and weld markings, sculptor Gegory Smith puts the process upfront as he deliberately positions each irregular 3D shape in a way that screams ‘balance’. Smith’s tower of forms challenges our known laws of gravity and balance; in the presence of the slightest tremor or breath of wind, in the absence of the welding process, these forms would cascade to the floor like marbles.

Carolina Ellenbogen; Acrylic on Canvas, 36” x 36”

Constellations, a painting by Carolina Ellenbogen from the “When the Light Breaks into Pieces” series, makes use of a silver, metallic, paint in the foreground; the tone of the metallic paint is picked up immediately in connection with the brushed copper featured in the construction of FIHP. The energy spreads across Ellenbogen’s canvas as if it is made up of individual stars following the patterns of a galaxy; hence the name. In addition to the tonal quality of the colors, the two works pair well because the fluid, undulating lines of silver marks across Ellenbogen’s canvas correlate with the gradient hues radiating from the weld-points throughout Smith’s sculpture, following the bounds of each organic shape. The ring-like shape of the residual burn marks on the sculpture emulate the waves in which Ellenbogen displays her metallic specks on her canvas. A pulse of energy, surging across physical space.

The metallic similarities, however, are not the only reason these works pair well. Color plays a large role in the relationship between these two works, and runs throughout the entire cluster. Orange and blue, exist as complementary and contrasting colors based on the most basic version of the color wheel. The deep sapphire and midnight blue hues featured in Ellenbogen’s work go head-to-head with the bright fiery-orange reflected off of the striking copper that makes up FIHP.

The depth of dramatic color contrast to FIHP can also be seen in Creature by Katrin Waite. Her tonal blue/green work features a range of complimentary colors. Unlike Ellenbogen’s Constellations, where blue is found in the rich hues that make up the background, Waite features a range of blues as the subject of the work itself. In addition to the background, composed mainly of teals and rich cobalt blues, Waite includes an irregularly shaped ‘squoval’ dead center.  By chance, this shape mimics the recurring organic forms in Smith’s FIHP.

Dublin Durller-Wilson’s monochromatic scheme of tonal oranges is the foundation of the composition and the subject of Mirage. Defined by the dignified horizon line that runs through the work, Durller-Wilson offers little in terms of object-as-subject, creating a tranquil environment for the viewer. A ‘calm amidst the storm’ in many ways, Durller-Wilson offers her audience an opportunity to step away from the chaos of day-to-day life into a serene place, undemanding of attention. A natural contrast to the works of Ellenbogen and Waite, Durller-Wilson acts as a colorful link back to the burned-orange tones in Smith's copper sculpture.

Each painting in this particular cluster can be paired with the sculpture alone or with other paintings. These pairings provide an opportunity for anyone to create great depth of shape and form distinction or to tell a coherent color story, monochromatic and subtle or strong and bright.

The purpose of exploring pairings and clusters with a variety of artists using a variety of mediums is to highlight the interchangeable nature and connectivity of abstract art. Opportunities emerge when abstract and nonrepresentational works are combined in any setting, whether with functional design, decorative patterning, objects of art or well-loved family photos. People do it everyday in their homes, combining furniture with wall colors, dishes with napkins, and picture frames with images. The subconscious choice to correlate separate items together in our homes and work spaces create visual pulls and allow our artistic tendencies to be satisfied, even in the most simple of spaces.

Elizabeth Spadea
Ellenbogen Gallery
263 Depot St.; Manchester, VT
‘Friends In High Places’
‘Pairings and Clusters’

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