Working with art consultants Katherine T. Carter and Associates, 4 Star Gallery has again brought in a pair of artists whose aesthetics appear to be worlds apart, with one exhibiting in the main gallery upstairs and the other hanging work in the basement space. In this case, the current exhibition by June Blanco and Vincent Scilla, it’s the latter space where the most delicious surprises are to be found.
Scilla’s work, hanging upstairs, maintains a sports and commercial icon motif throughout. Meticulous, graphic images that say “Andy Warhol” for their celebration of popular culture (although Warhol was being ironic) appear to be Scilla’s mainstay, and they are rendered almost perfectly. Somehow, though, they rest on a visual plane without descending into a more intellectual or spiritual one. One can easily admire the crispness of the imagery, the brilliant, almost retro color choices, and the nostalgia they evoke. But downstairs is where deeper realms are to be plumbed.
June Blanco, who was born in Boston but spent 40 years in Columbia, South America, committed herself to art later in life, completing her degree in her seventies at the Massachusetts College of Art in 2002. While this should make no difference in how we see Blanco’s art, one senses a combination of maturity and freshness that is unique for seasoned artists, and even more rare for “newer” ones.
Blanco’s large oil canvases are almost completely abstract and yet speak subjectively to recognizable images. “Where Are We #1” layers lines of color like streamers bursting from some unseen, joyous explosion. Suggestive of fireworks, this painting—and others like it—contains a robustness of color and form that falls short of suggesting that something is being withheld, and yet still possesses a shadow quality. Blanco could be exploring the intellectual side of art more than the emotive one; and yet both are present, apparent also in paintings such as “The Dancer,” rendered in brilliant blues and layered swirls.
While raising her five children in Columbia, Blanco built a collection of pottery and artifacts and designed and exhibited necklaces made from rare beads. The ancient and indigenous art there undoubtedly had an influence on her artmaking, then and now. Occasionally, though, Blanco’s work borders on the industrial, with heavy lines overlapping one another like the unseen structures of what makes things work, especially those things we take for granted. Intentional or not, this speaks to the beauty of art when it strikes a balance between intention and intuition.
Works by June Blanco and Vincent Scilla are on view at 4 Star Gallery, 653 Massachusetts Ave., through Sept. 3. Call 686-6382 for hours and information.