Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Tennessean: Sarah Shearer's portraits at Twist 58 question feminine ideals

The Tennessean

December 20, 2009

Sarah Shearer's portraits at Twist 58 question feminine ideals

Sarah Shearer: Seven Questions, currently on view at Twist 58, explores the nature of beauty, superficiality, strength, happiness and other ideas in two series of female portraits.

Shearer created a special little world for the show, starting by painting the gallery floors bright pink — a hue somewhere between bubblegum and Pepto Bismol.

The paintings are "pretty feminine and introspective," Shearer says, "so I thought I might as well go with that. It's pretty bold."

Shearer's combinations of texture and pattern are equally bold. In her larger paintings, she positions a woman (or women) staring confidently from the canvas, against striking backgrounds of stripes or elaborate designs rendered in turquoise, gold and other vivid colors. These are made by spraying paint through fabric as a stencil.

Shearer also employed this stenciling technique on the gallery's large windows, creating a white, frosty base over which she painted her name in a flowing script. The resulting signage gives the gallery the appearance of a little boutique. Indeed, it's similar to a hair salon a few doors down.

The smaller paintings in the show are Shearer's newest. They complement the more reserved larger works with harsher, more forceful images and rougher textures built from layers of rubbery, dried latex paint.

Sarah Shearer: Seven Questions remains on view at Twist 58 in the Arcade through Saturday. Gallery hours this week are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. For information, call 1-888-535-5286 or go to http://www.twistartgallery.com/">www.twistartgallery.com.

— MICHELLE JONES, FOR THE TENNESSEAN