‘Whispering Spheres’ is a lively mix of forms, rhythms on canvas

By Wayne Lempka, for the Poughkeepsie Journal, 1987

Feather Bones

Feather Bones

“Whispering Spheres,” the current exhibition on display at the Plant Science Building at the Cary Arboretum in Millbrook, is anything but quiet and unassuming. Consisting of 18 oils on canvas by Bronx artist Catherine [Rutgers] Sand, this newest body of work will be on display until Dec. 11.

Sand’s paintings vary in size from gem-like canvases that one would like to hold close and relish each detail, to a seven foot triptych which has a powerful combination of gestural openness and light.

It seems quite appropriate that this body of work should be displayed in such a naturalistic setting. Sand’s canvases consist mainly of organic forms and rhythms which become animated by the employment of dry brush strokes used to highlight details. It is these details that make the works abstractions of nature.

All of the paintings convey a light, whimsical view of reality. They are full of clean colors and details that blend and flow. At times, they are richly suggestive of magnified sections of Monet’s famous water lily paintings and other times, have a nervous quality, found in oriental calligraphy.

In the painting “The Wave,” one encounters an abundance of movement. Through the varied use of color, Sand creates paths or circuits which guide the eye through the painting. Many times one becomes lost in the meditative quietness that is created. It is like being lost on a road that cuts through an early morning mist.

In “Illustration” one is drawn into a subtle yet powerful organic image which rises out of a center palette of blues and purples. By drawing with the brush, the artist is able to create sheets of color that glow or brood from above or below.

The two most successful small canvases, “Zen” and “Pink Orbit,” are so tightly put together that the shifting of any one element could cause the others to fall apart. The seductive use of colors and forms in both works seems to hint at secrets hidden from the viewer.

Sand works her paintings to the point where they take on a poetic nature. She draws the viewer in and captures him, unaware. This is not an easy task when dealing with a two dimensional surface.

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From “Whispering Spheres,” oil-based enamels on canvas, 3 x 3 feet.

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