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In digital times, curator favors human connection


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Photo by Wanda Jackson. Jan Razauskas’s acrylic on aluminum works titled “No Matter What” (pictured, left) and “Replacement.”

Photo by Wanda Jackson. Jan Razauskas’s acrylic on aluminum works titled “No Matter What” (pictured, left) and “Replacement.”

Published on: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

Art curator, critic, educator and artist Jack Livingston clearly favors human interaction and quality relationships.

In a “society that is dominated by digital-based technology, which can be exhilarating and even profound,” Livingston said, individuals no longer experience “the fleeting deep meaningful tender mercies of everyday life — those unplanned moments of pure natural connection especially the interpersonal kind, those moments of the sublime.”

“While the sublime (like love) may be hard to find,” said Livingston, “we know it when we feel it.”

Livingston’s sublime find has ended up on the walls of the 39th Street Gallery in Brentwood.

At the gallery through Oct. 26, Livingston’s curation titled “Tender Mercies” features the works of three artists that he has “admired for years.”

While their works greatly differ, Livingston said, the artists — Jan Razauskas, Ding Ren and Gerald Ross — “share some common themes: a personal integrity to their work, an understanding of the intimate, a singular notion of the abstract and an ability to delve into the sublime.”

Razauskas, an adjunct art professor in Baltimore, wrote that she is “inspired by the transmutative qualities of paint” from liquid to a solid substance.

In her work titled “Mirage,” free-flowing lines create rhythmical patterns across random layers of abstractly-shaped spots of color. Its title begs viewers to question what the work is really about. Is the painting an optical illusion? Or, does the painting reveal fleeting aspects of the human condition?

In her photographs, Ren, a self-described nomadic artist and writer explores “cross-cultural patterns and phenomena in relations to home and migration.”

Born in China and living part-time in the U.S. and The Netherlands, Ren said that her photographs “address the tension between the familiar and the foreign, touching upon topics of topography, borders and place.”

Ren’s limited-editon work titled “Studies on Becoming a Closet Formalist” is a series of small hand-printed analogue chromogenic prints depicting “light, sky, water, streaks and smoke.”

“I find the need to piece together these tiny patterns and moments so that they formulate a poetry of the quotidian,” Ren wrote in her artist statement.

In his oil and graphite paintings, Ross’s subjects are historical figures, monuments and places. Ross, a former muralist and current director of exhibitions at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, describes his work as “attempting to straddle a line between serene pictorial elegance” and a mysterious chaotic universe.

Ross’s work titled “Monument” recalls the Lincoln Monument — a Lincoln-esque figure is silhouetted against a light-colored monument and clear blue sky.

“I can see some of these as studies for public murals,” Ross said.

Other works in his collections include “Niagra,” “Shot Tower” and “Monticello.”

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