Kate Roesch at WCC
Cocoon-babies and floating boulders
by Laura Bien
Arguably Ann Arbor's most unsung fine-art gallery, Washtenaw Community College's GalleryOne outdoes certain downtown galleries on several points: scads of free parking; a refreshing absence of self-important hype; an airy, inviting food court just outside, in which to people-watch while nibbling a postexhibit tidbit; and intriguing shows, such as Kate Roesch's current exhibit of monoprints and paintings.
Seven giant, vivid paintings give the strongest first impression, but Roesch's twenty-five prints make the viewer pause longest. Soft charcoal-like smudges; thin, wavery lines; and liquid, streaky brushstrokes form a textural-salad novelty that prolongs the gaze, allowing Roesch's evocative imagery to sink in.
In her abstract series Skyscapes, a milky cloudlike form floats in blue above a cool swath of meadowlike green. Colors shift from print to print, but the basic shapes and the peaceful, quiet mood persist. I felt like running out onto the green meadow under the silent cloud. I was unsurprised to find that several prints from this series were already sold - before the show's official opening.
The print Memory of Water shows a smiling woman in a red dress, hands clasped behind her, on a sinuous riverine path that snakes into the distance under a haze of brush or smoke. The vague cocoon-baby form next to her is what draws the eye. Drawn in outline, in contrast to the woman's distinct, sun-washed features, this ghostly pupa-baby seems to hold out one unheeded arm to her. It's spooky, suggesting a lost child or childhood, perhaps willfully ignored by the smiling woman.
Another six-print series in blue, green, black, and white centers on a rocklike form. May Rains shows what seems like a foamy waterfall in a green fjord. In Tumble, blue boulders drift upward despite gravity. A particularly pleasing work, Rain Stone, is nothing more than a rectangular black rock in a delicate blue-green mist.
In contrast to several paintings of color blocks such as Island Shadows (left), Untitled: Yellow offers a glowing yellow haze
that has an abstract orange bubble and mauve-orange curves and strips suggesting disassembled Chinese calligraphy.
Throughout the gallery, wispy strings of barely readable light green words appear on the walls. They seem to refer to the prints' images of women and girls: "clothes hanging on a line . . . you have no stockings; you keep your knees close together when you stand . . . the green apron . . . I run the brush through her thin brown hair . . . a pin on your dress like an award or badge; did you join a group?" These whispery fragments combine with female images to suggest a sort of echo chamber of memory between mothers and daughters; they'll remain on display through Thursday, May 20.
[Originally published in April, 2004.]