Ann Arbor Observer cover
Liberty Alley
Ann Arbor Weather:
Wednesday October 27, 2021
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
abstract painting by Elizabeth Schwartz

Elizabeth Schwartz

Exactly unconstrained

by Sally Wright Day

From the June, 2016 issue

I don't "presearch" art exhibits. No site checking. No bios. I want fresh eyes, a mind uncluttered by prejudice, and an openness to the art even if it's not on my list of favorite styles.

That objective stance didn't last long at Unconstrained, Elizabeth Schwartz's current show at the WSG Gallery. Schwartz paints the top tier of my fave list: abstracts.

I wasn't alone. "Ohhhh, this is exactly me," my companion said as we stepped into WSG. An art school grad, mega-art lover, and occasional practitioner of abstract painting, she veered off one way, exploring, and I took the opposite. We were both gaping at these luscious acrylic paintings. Another couple of women were already there, pointing, talking animatedly, separating and then calling out to each other across the gallery to come see.

Looking over the exhibit as a whole, I saw shapes as colors, colors as shapes, and formless lines that hint at forms. At first the hues seem muted with grays, subtle blues, and overall softness predominating. Paradoxically, almost every painting is punctuated with bold, thin strokes of a sort of structural black and sudden punches of fluorescence. Yet each painting seems thoughtful, even contemplative.

"This new series explores a dichotomy--open, peaceful, and quietly neutral spaces which are interrupted by forms and shapes, moving through, becoming submerged and reappearing in these spaces," Schwartz writes in her artist statement. "As these two forces interact, I often create a certain tension through the introduction of lines, juxtaposed against quiet space, thereby energizing the painting."

Exactly. Take Firmament. A calm blue-gray dominates, with darker corners and collections of soft oranges, yellows, and greens throughout. But then there's a splash of neon pink and a few eye-popping greens. Black lines form a sort of spine and then shred and hatch, building an open structure. But there are also hints of bodily forms: legs and breasts, a head and torso. Stepping back, it then evolves into a formless exploration, as if it's a thought

...continued below...

inside a thought--like a daydream that's suddenly interrupted by a phone call but returns even as your caller is talking.

A couple works depict bolder, more structured forms, like Rock Form Ramble, where black defines the background and makes outlined shapes pop. Aerial uses cerulean blue to the same effect. So there's a subtle dichotomy even in the show itself.

It turns out Schwartz herself is a dichotomy: an experienced lawyer--whose former titles include Ann Arbor city attorney and assistant state attorney general--and an artist. What an amazing contrast from law's exacting constraints to the freedom and meditation of abstract art.

You can treat yourself to the same meditative luxuries until the exhibit ends June 18.     (end of article)

[Originally published in June, 2016.]


Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Perfumes & Gifts by Shalimar Is Gone
Another swift departure on Main St.
Micheline Maynard
New Direction
Jim Harbaugh survived one of U-M's worst football seasons. Now he's shaking up his staff.
Craig Ross, Jan Schlain
Huron River Renaissance
Ann Arbor rediscovers its river
Grace Shackman
Subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer
Remembering Professor Don Cameron, by Jeffrey A. Stacey
Writing Coach
When Adam Was spent the biggest game of the season on the bench, he was "hurt and confused."
Jan Schlain
Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants
The YMCA Child Development Center
Play-based learning, Covid-cautious
Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
Music: Classical, Religious, & Cabaret
Rocket Fizz Comes to Main St.
Classic and wacky candy in WSG's old spot
Micheline Maynard
a2view the Ann Arbor Observer's weekly email newsletter