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Opposites attract at new P.S. Gallery exhibit

Opposites attract at new P.S. Gallery exhibit

Thom Smith understands irony. In his new exhibit at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery, the local painter juxtaposes a dense anvil suspended in mid-air, adorned with a delicate white, potted flower, against a charcoal black background. An ordinary sprinkler is enthroned on a beautifully draped pedestal.

All of his objects are depicted on the canvas in rich, realistic detail. It’s his ability to render photographic detail that brings the contrasting items together on the canvas to powerful effect.

Thom Smith, oil on canvas, Rain King

Smith, who moved to Columbia in 2007, is one of several artists featured at the P.S. Gallery exhibit that opened July 1 and closes Sept. 28.  P.S. Gallery’s exhibit also highlights Missouri-born painter Sarah Williams, Columbian Joel Sager, Josephine Stealey, Vicki Weaver, Tom Pfannerstill and David Griffin.

Williams, who is working on a master’s degree in fine arts in Denton, Texas, makes you stop and appreciate the overlooked icons of the Midwest. Often a brilliant sign will cast eerie light on her subjects, transforming typical rural nightscapes into tranquil and nostalgic scenes. Her paintings usually incorporate recognizable subjects that are salient to a Midwestern community.

For example, her painting MFA Oil incorporates the classic image of a gas station shining brightly like a beacon in the night. The light from its sign reveals the contours and silhouettes of some objects while shadowing other objects that lay just beyond the perimeter. The effect puts the viewer somewhere on the dark road looking in on the scene.

Sara Williams, oil on canvas, MFA Oil

Beside Smith and Williams, permanently featured artist and associate curator Joel Sager is displaying a series of collage, oil and tar-based paintings. It’s not unusual to take a look at Sager’s work from afar and then move in closer to appreciate the carefully collaged fabric and interconnected materials in each painting. Sager said his painting Chair and Mug, with its brilliant red background, is an experiment in  incorporating brighter colors into his work.

Weaver’s sculptures are unique not only for their fragile design, but for the diverse materials that go into each vase-like object.  The base is usually made of pig gut and upon close examination, other natural materials decorate her pieces, including hornet nests, pea pods and rose thorns.

Sager, who works in the gallery, has become familiar with passersby walking in outraged over Pfannerstill’s wooden carvings of trash. At first, they are shocked by the life-size crushed gasoline can hanging in the front window and walk in to tell him about it. Then, they realize that the realistic can is actually Pfannerstill’s almost identical wooden creation.

Pfannerstill’s hand-carved wooden sculptures work on several levels. First, they work as commentary on consumerism and pollution. The red and white Christmas Starbucks paper cup, crushed and coffee-stained, is also a play on pop art.

Food and wine will be served at the exhibit’s official opening at 6 p.m. July 12 in the gallery at 812 East Broadway

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