Thirty years ago, at a Friday night party, a painter friend put down his beer and said, "I'm off - life's happening back on the canvas, gotta get back to it." He left us, and painted all night. I have seldom been able to write all night, but I write all day when I can, and those days are too few. Yet when Finesilver Gallery's announcement of Mark Schlesinger's new show arrived in the mail, the small color photograph of the artist's painting, Trippin', lured me away from syllables with a siren song I couldn't resist.

Schlesinger's 14 works, lined around a wide, three-walled, white space at Finesilver, dazzle partly because of their color. The artist makes his own paint, an acrylic polymer, because he wants the paint "to do specific things: like look waxy rather than

Mark Schlesinger's exhibition at Finesilver Gallery ends on Saturday, April 5.
11am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday
Through April 5
Finesilver Gallery
816 Camaron
shiny, have the strength to hold a shape but be fluid enough to look like it has melted, be able to have any pigment mixed into it, be able to stack any color on top of any color, be opaque or translucent, be able to adhere to plastic panels." The lines, rectangles, and squares of his paintings are not simply geometric shapes. The texture of the paint causes edges to become earthy furrows, fleshy lips, tunneled openings onto veiled, gauzy regions beyond. Spaces and shapes shift beneath the viewer's stare. Surfaces merge into depths, backgrounds worm their way forward. Nothing is static. Nothing is what it appears to be.

The first painting in the show, Rain Dance, is composed of blues and greens subtly vibrant and tactilely delicious, at times worked into hook-like waves, crimped into crepe-like ripples. Boo Berry is of a purple so dense it seems as if a ton of blueberries had been mashed and baked into a murky brick wall. Juxtaposed with Boo Berry is Sea Glass, a transparent acrylic panel where the purple shimmers, alive and watery. Schlesinger's installation is carefully arranged with a progression of echoes and transformations, each painting in dialogue with the next. The final work in the series is Pillow Talk, which - like the piece it faces across the gallery, the cool blue-green Rain Dance - features rolled paint, but with warm flesh tones.

Schlesinger has one-person shows scheduled for May 2003 in Wuppertal, Germany, and for 2004 in Muenster and Cologne; future solo shows are in the planning stages for Madrid, Zurich, and Amsterdam. The artist's decision to move with his family from New York City to San Antonio in 1999 was a lucky one for the local art community. Yet despite the artist's permanence in San Antonio, his exhibit at Finesilver closes April 5. •