The Austin Chronicle


Local Arts Reviews

Reviewed by Molly Beth Brenner, December 12, 2003, Arts

Cream, Frost, Mint

Mixed media by Melanie Crader

"Juror's Choice 2003," Women & Their Work Gallery, through Dec. 23

Three panels side by side, each about 4 feet tall, glitter from a white wall in Women & Their Work Gallery. That's about all they do; there's no narrative to complicate this piece of work, no forms or figures to mar the trinity's simplicity. The viewer's eye is able to settle instead on other qualities of the trinity: the seemingly infinite depth of its glitter, its alternately creamy and bubbly texture, the soothing effect of the soft pastel palette. Melanie Crader's Cream, Frost, Mint exudes a refreshing serenity, much like light reflecting from a bank of snow.

Crader's piece converses fluently with the other works in this juried show. Many of the artists have employed natural materials in their work; where Crader has used fine-ground diamond dust (coated on the panels to create their profound sparkle), other artists have worked with rose petals, moss, sheep hide, sand, sod, and fur. The cool, bright colors of Cream, Frost, Mint, studded with pearls and spangles like so many modern fashions, echo the creations on present-day runways; many of the other pieces reflect the bright hues and wildly varied textiles seen in other genres of modern design. Crader's piece is also an abstract work in a show abounding with abstracts, although sculpture, installation, and narrative painting make a strong showing, too. In the arresting mélange that is Women & Their Work's annual "Juror's Choice" exhibit, Cream, Frost, Mint stands out as a calm, bright presence.

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