‘Segue To Flight’

Local Arts Reviews


"Segue to Flight"

Zandoozi Gallery, through March 3

There is something reassuring about seeing recognizable places captured in a good light. In the six years I've lived in Austin, I've seen about 15 paintings of Barton Springs. I practically always enjoy them. There is a new one at Zandoozi Gallery, courtesy of Jennifer Balkan, and as soon as I saw the lifeguard stands in it I could practically feel the sunshine on my hair.

There is a simple pleasure in painting your city, your immediate surroundings. It's kind of sweet. It's practically patriotic. Balkan's paintings are mostly cheerful and energetic portrayals of Austin and her friends. In her show "Segue to Flight," she throws in some pictures of magical coastal birds with royal crowns. She even tries her hand at fantasy with some flying women. However, these flying skyscapes are not my favorites; the clouds are pretty, but I get motion sick very easily, so Superman-style cruises are not very soothing to my psychic happiness.

Some styles of contemporary realism are cold, hard-edged, and geometrically jarring, but not Balkan's. In Pink Dress, the whole piece has a golden fuzzy feeling, with a direct and forceful light source. The red warehouse is hatched nicely with purple shadows. A classic car is parked near the girl. The rich darks come from under the white car and reach into the foreground on a nice strong diagonal. The girl, who's looking away from the viewer, toward the car, is fancy and backlit. Her pink dress is reflected in the chrome and panels, and the gauze of her dress is sun drenched like her blond hair. It reminds me of going to a late afternoon event at the Continental Club. Happy hour and good times – a great topic for an artist.

The characters in Balkan's pieces here seem to dance across the streets in joyful fits. They are so active and so optimistic. This vigorous new body of work speaks well of Balkan's pleasant state of mind these days. Let's all hope she stays happy and keeps those rosy glasses on.

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Segue to Flight, Zandoozi Gallery, Jennifer Balkan, Pink Dress

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