Dancing skylines 

Gayla Hodson: Urban Fields
Pivot Gallery
Through Jan. 28

Art serves many purposes, not the least of which is to provoke or inspire. Sometimes, though, art just is: It exists as an extension of an artist’s creative vision, an expression of a unique view of the world through a visual lens. Certainly, it’s worth a second look if the artist has made the effort to plumb his or her own depths — whether it turns up a brighter view or a darker one.

Local artist Gayla Hodson, whose solo exhibition, Urban Fields, is on view at Pivot Gallery in the Stutz Building, tends to look at things from a brighter perspective. Two aspects of her work make it stand out: the ever-presence of flowers and the use of bright and ecstatic color. At times, the colors are lovely, serene, but at other moments, they come off as almost too brilliant, feeling like an overcompensation for some darker place. But Hodson is certainly entitled to veer a little to the right or left of center when it comes to her use of palette: This type of extreme experimentation will no doubt bring her to a perfect, or near-perfect place — and in some instances she’s already there.

In “Night Falls,” the oil paint is thickly textured and scored, which adds to the depth of the image. The blooms of flowers, as in almost all of Hodson’s paintings, are perched atop spindly stems trailing off into space to suggest a floating presence rather than a grounded one. Here Hodson achieves just the right balance between curve and line, light and dark. Revealing Hodson’s further versatility, “Road Side” positions a field of flowers in the foreground of the city skyline; the lines of the buildings realized by drip method rather than brush.

As a whole, Urban Fields is intended to explore in a multitude of variations the notion of nature against industry. As Hodson puts it, “The juxtaposition of organic shapes in nature against the industrial and angular positioning of city forms is quite provocative. The integration can be both strong and fragile.” This exploration isn’t a difficult one in this case; we don’t see the tension, for instance, between the darker side of industry and the uninhibited beauty of nature. Rather, Hodson’s is a more playful view, and one that distills what she sees rather than drawing out its more idiosyncratic elements.

Urban Fields, recent paintings by Indianapolis artist Gayla Hodson, is on view at Pivot Gallery, 1005 N. Senate Ave., through Jan. 28, 2008. This is the last solo show the gallery will present before Pivot Marketing moves its headquarters and closes the gallery next spring. Call 317-536-0047 or visit www.pivotgallery.com for a schedule of remaining exhibitions or more information.

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