The adage, “Practice what you preach,” is alive and well at Riverhead’s Art Sites Gallery. Co-owners and married couple Glynis Berry and Hideaki Ariizumi have substantial backgrounds in architecture, which establishes many of their aesthetic priorities when it comes to exhibits. (Berry has a Master of Architecture from Yale University; Ariizumi is the principal architect of studio a/b in New York.)
Thus, the current show gives credence to Ariizumi’s expertise with his furniture design (the “Planes” portion of the exhibit). The most fascinating part of the work (mostly chairs) is that it’s simultaneously simple and complicated. For example, the chairs seem quite functional at first glance. We even sat in one and found it comfortable and charming. Oddly enough, the back of the chair recalls a picket fence, evoking an old-fashion setting that attracted our attention. Yet, other chairs had no design flourishes; rectangles made of plywood made their hard-edged forms familiar and simple.
We looked again and saw some subtle abnormalities. One chair was slightly off-balance despite its rectangular shape. A high stool also seemed not quite high or low enough. These design derivations were not only fascinating, but part of their contradictory qualities. One configuration didn’t pretend to be simple. The shape was obviously a seat with a heart-shaped opening next to it. A small table-like extension completed the work. Yet, we weren’t sure exactly how the piece was to be used. Was it merely decorative? We don’t think so.
The idea that all the chairs could be folded up added another dimension to their contradictory aspects. Consider that such a process would be a space-saver. But folding up a piece could also transform it to another shape with a different function and design. Such a process gives Ariizumi’s chairs an aesthetic that is indeed startling and profound.
Debbie Ma’s large abstract paintings compose the “Lines” portion of the exhibit, even though Ariizumi’s chairs consider lines as well. While we want to see grid patterns in Ma’s works and perhaps compare them to those by other grid artists, we can’t: Ma’s designs are unique. We also can’t exactly relate her background in the graphic arts to her current work, except for her focus on detail, color and precision.
The effect of viewing the paintings is most important, however, at least for this critic. The lines’ density forms a maze, which motivates us to try and find a way in and out of the canvas. We don’t want to give up until we solve the spatial puzzle, but, of course, we never do. Ma’s use of lines takes other directions as well when spirals swirling around and around form a maze as well. Subsequently, we are drawn into the labyrinth almost against our will.
Another exhibiting artist is Andres Ramirez Gaviria, whose “Sources” involves gelatin silver prints, stroboscopic lamps and a DMX controller. The series centers on lines as well, at least at first glance.
The works also recall graphs, although this is not their intention. Rather, radio signals from astronomical objects are translated, transformed and exhibited as a series of several images. “The shape and elements of these diverse distant objects are only suggested through indirect processes of interpretation.” While this explanation sounds complicated, the visual images themselves are arresting.
“Lines and Planes” will be on view at Riverhead’s Art Sites Gallery, 651 West Main Street, until September 29. 631-591-2401. For more info, visit ArtSitesGallery.com.