Arts The art capades

Finesilver gushes back onto the SA scene

The drought has finally ended. Finesilver Gallery opened its first exhibition in nearly a year at its San Antonio location on Camaron Street. While we hunkered down against the dreary gray skies outside, Finesilver’s opening offered a mood-elevating antidote with lush color and surface explorations by Mark Flood and Zane Lewis.

Zane Lewis is an employee of Finesilver, which doesn’t guarantee a show there, but his clean, white-framed paintings are appropriately designed for Finesilver’s aesthetic — one that is ultra-contemporary but still loves objects, particularly paintings that push the envelope.

A detail from “Stay Gold,” by Zane Lewis, who uses a computer to translate photographs into paint-by-number images.

Lewis is purportedly seeking the Fountain of Youth, the mythical water source that drew Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon to what is now Florida. Today’s retirement mecca failed to cough up its youth-rendering treasure, but the idea persists as a metaphor for anything that restores youthfulness. This concept definitely fits Lewis’ body of work, which has recently included pink-lemonade sculptures, shimmering light boxes, and his current series of paint-by-number paintings.

For the latter, Zane photographs water in motion and then converts these rippled images by computer into line diagrams with initials demarcating color placement. It is a frontal attack on the majestic to stop water’s motion, dissect it, and take away its ability to reflect light — gutsy when placed in the context of painting’s traditional interpretations of water. But this isn’t the most interesting aspect of the series.

Mark Flood,
Zane Lewis

11am-6pm Tue-Sat,
& by appt.
Through Mar 15

Finesilver Gallery
816 Camaron

After Lewis created his own coloring book, he colored outside of the lines. Pools of intoxicatingly rich colored paint drip from the edges, giving the impression of a painting draining itself out. The best of the series uses un-water-like colors — oranges, pinks, and browns rather than just blues and greens — which makes for an interesting contradiction. Where paint collects on the bottom of the frame, it is as soothing and beautiful as rain.

While walking through the gallery you may encounter other work by Lewis lying on counters or in the open offices; I caught a glimpse of a Marilyn Monroe made the same way. These should be tucked away so as not to jar viewers out of the seamless meshing of subject with liquid process. While paint-by-number may come from the same soup of popular culture as Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn screenprint, and more directly refer to Warhol’s “Do-It-Yourself Seascape J” (1963), Lewis’ work should remain elegant rather than gimmicky.

Upstairs, Houston artist Mark Flood’s paintings complement Lewis’ in color and cellular reticulation. Playing on the domestic, Flood incorporates frayed woven objects into his paintings — Persian rugs, lace table runners, and shawl-like swags — which defy gravity and break apart in midair.

Houston artist Mark Flood creates negative spaces on canvases by painting over frayed woven objects and then removing them. At left, a detail from “Crushed.”

In his build-up of surface, the artist lays these traditionally feminine artifacts on colored canvases and rolls paint over them, loose threads and all. Flood then removes the objects and leaves only their negative spaces with ghostly stained imprints where the fabric once was. The paintings play tricks on your eyes as you realize there is nothing but paint in front of you. The best of Flood’s works keep the painted surface flat, rather than trying to compete for pattern by leaving waves of roller marks. When it comes to the weave, the more ragged the lace, the more interesting the painting. This not only creates gaping mouths with flying strings of spittle, it mocks the tight-as-a-drum propriety of functional canvas.

Flood is investigating decay juxtaposed with fresh-faced beauty. Where Agnes Martin’s tight, weave-like pencil grids tap into infinite expanse, Flood’s destruction of perpendicular warp and weft return painting to expressionist irregularity. This series is compelling and the patterns sometimes eat into each other with Motherwellian gusto. Will they have the same staying power? That is the $64,000 question.

By Catherine Walworth