The current show at Espresso Americano features a collection of thirteen works of art: primarily pastel paintings, mono-prints and assemblages by Dawn Westmoreland.
The first piece that caught my eye as I entered the coffee shop and perhaps my favorite piece was a portrait of a woman. She is portrayed as an aging, but iconic “party girl.” She is clad only in an earring, bracelet and necklace, which are three-dimensional metal jewelry pieces fastened to and emerging from the painting. The figure is smoking and I am thankful that the cigarette is merely painted in place. At first blush the woman in the painting seems shallow or superficial. Yet, as I spent some time with the image I began to feel a deeper significance. While the figure may in part represent superficiality, she also appears honest, open and content. There is a dignity to her appearance that challenges my authority to judge her condition.
This image questions reality. Ordinarily I consider jewelry to be an ornamentation that augments an illusory image of an otherwise real person. But, here the woman is a mere representation and the jewelry is part of the reality of my three-dimensional world. The ontology of the piece seems to be backward. Any work of art that has the strength to unsettle my sense of reality deserves my attention.
Next to the portrait is another piece, which is an assemblage of consumer products with some fixtures thrown in. The box frame collection of artifacts includes a doorknob, a Delta 88 trim piece, a circuit board and a faucet. Perhaps this piece is designed to encourage me to see common items around me as artful. Perhaps the cluttered collection of logos and formerly moving parts is offered as a modern consumer’s landscape. Perhaps not. I just cannot tell and this one leaves me empty. In the end it comes off as a random assortment of stuff and I have trouble connecting with it.
Three of the other pieces in this show worth seeing include a mono-type titled “Red Phish,” that’s “P-H-I-S-H.” The work appears as though pigment were transferred with cheesecloth. The delicate red lines remind me of capillaries.
Another compelling piece is a mixed media abstraction of a treed landscape. The “trees” are covered in bits of colored glass or plastic, which for me represented a flowering or blooming. The effect is decidedly upbeat.
The show also contains a black and white print entitled “Flowers.” The image is a delicate, well balanced and intricate floral I take to be a Clematis. This print emphasizes the botanical design of the flowering plant without the distraction of color.
Espresso Americano is located in the Everett Public Library at 2702 Hoyt, Everett. They are open Seven days a week, closing at 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays and closing at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. This exhibition continues through the end of March, 2010.