The Art of Marriage

Married 2 Art. At the Jewish Community Center. Shows through January 30, 2007.

Reviewed by Beth Taylor-Schott

getimage.jpgTo put on a show of contemporary art works by married couples is to invite the testing of theories. To put on a show as diverse and compelling as Married 2 Art, as curator Ditte Wolff has done at the Jewish Community Center, is to thwart all those who would arrive brandishing such theories.

Do women produce more feminine art? Since the show hangs the work of each couple next to each other, it is easy to try this experiment: As you move through the gallery and hall spaces, see if you can tell which works are by the wives and which by the husbands, before you get close enough to read the wall labels. In a few cases, you’ll probably guess correctly.

Janice Gilbar Treadwell’s lush flowers do contrast with the gritty, black and white landscapes done by her husband Peter. Mary Heebner’s intuitive renditions of vessel shapes might also catch your eye as primordially feminine, though her husband, Macduff Everton’s gorgeous panoramas hardly seem particularly masculine. Penny McCall’s hooked rug works not only nod to feminine craft techniques, but delight in their domestic subject matter. But then, Wayne McCall’s explorations of decaying and disposed matter might look downright feminine themselves.

At other times, you will guess wrong, and most of the time, you will have no basis for comparison. Yareli Corbian paints herself in a bolder Rembrandtian idiom than her husband Sergio Rebia, and many of the husbands’ works are indistinguishable from their wives. You will need a strong connoisseur’s eye, for example, to distinguish Sharon Dabney Romero’s paintings from those of her husband, Frank. Philip Argent’s works could have been another series that Jane Callister was working on — so similar are the colors, shapes, and underlying compositional sense — and Rollin Fortier’s sculpture could have been photographer Hilary Brace working in another medium, while mining the same brilliant vein of amorphousness.

You might also test the theory that husband and wife are likely to influence each other’s work. Magdalena and Michael Frimkess work so closely together that both their names appear on their ceramics. Jean Lowe and Kim MacConnel’s works, on the other hand, share little more than a sense of whimsy. In the end, the only theory that the show supports — given the universally high quality of work — is the theory that two artists in the family are better than one. Now we just need a show that includes same-sex couples to irrefutably prove it.

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