Atlantic Works Gallery Holds ‘Contemporary Dialogues’ Reception

Atlantic Works Gallery (AWG) held its Third Thursday reception for “Contemporary Dialogues,” featuring artwork by Joan Ryan, Rick Dorff, and John Greiner-Ferris, on March 21.

In contrast to her love of monochromatic charcoal pieces of the past, Ryan’s most recent oil on paper series emphasizes intense color. In the summer of 2023, while sitting in her garden, she was struck by the overwhelming vibrance and beauty of her two, bright yellow chairs and red carpet that were being illuminated by the sun. From then on, color has motivated Ryan.

“For the first time in many years, I began to look at heightened color around me in a different way. That was the inspiration,” explained Ryan. “I found a lot of freedom in color. I wanted the interaction within the work to be secondary to the experience of color, and what that does when someone looks at the work.”

Ryan hopes that viewers are viscerally affected when looking closely at her surrealist-like paintings. Fanciful and absurd, contradictory images are combined in an effort to comment on how society is often unaware of what is happening around them. Ryan’s work encourages spectators to reflect about the purpose or meaning in a person’s own environment.

“It’s the idea that we frequently ignore what’s around us, whether it’s beauty or pain,” said Ryan. “We put on blinders and get on our phones. I think the work talks, hopefully not too forcefully, about that.”

Rick Dorff’s stackable sculptures – constructed using wood, plaster, fabric, paint, Mylar, and ink – reflect his interest in symmetry, and how various shapes reflect light.

“I care about how things fit into space, and how it affects the space, and what the space is after the piece is in it,” described Dorff.

Artist, John Greiner-Ferris, is deeply moved by the mutual respect and appreciation he shares with Dorff and Ryan. He feels that their pieces throughout the exhibition compliment and talk to one another.

“You don’t buy a ticket, go into a theater, and say, ‘entertain me.’ The actors on stage do that. When you go to a concert, you’re dancing and the band is on stage,” Greiner-Ferris explained. “All that energy that goes back and forth belongs in the gallery, too. When you look at something, it should push back.”

Influenced by theater, Greiner-Ferris uses text to speak directly to the viewer. It is his way of breaking the picture plane and approaching the three dimensional.

“I combine text and images to make assemblages to comment on society,” described Greiner-Ferris. “I work across a lot of disciplines, and it all merges.”

Greiner-Ferris’s “low-tech” mixed media work disputes the concept that art must be serious, and perfectly polished by presenting meaningful and ludicrous illustrations that provoke laughter.

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