Visual Arts

Playful Interactions With Shadows, Light

Longtime fans of Danielle Frankenthal’s works, as well as new converts, will appreciate the nuanced changes in the light-filled pieces found in “The Space Between” exhibit at Nicole Longnecker Gallery. Her abstract paintings – rooted in the Concrete Movement – feature three layers of acrylic resin panels, each painted on both sides, yielding six painted surfaces for her playful mark making and gestures. The hardware is invisible, holding the pieces away from the wall, creating playful interactions between shadows and light during the day and, by night, a soft phosphorescent glow.

The exhibit nicely tells the story of where she has been and how her style is evolving, beginning with 2009’s Tone Poem Series, a four-unit piece that only uses two layers of Acrylite®. Her predominantly aquamarine marks are sometimes wide, other times effervescent, with controlled swipes of vibrant color that remind the viewer of a cool, watery, undersea utopia.

The artist graduated to three layers, and added metal gilding to the base layer, as seen in 2013’s Turbulence #4. In this first prototype of the triple-decker, her layers are closer together, and her marks are heavy and monochromatic. Her use of color-changing phosphorescent paint draws the eye to small areas of the composition, providing the viewer with focal points as they blink from white to blue.

Frankenthal shows only two pieces from 2014’s Crossroads Series, one of which features bold colors energetically meeting in the center with motion-filled streaks of teals and cobalt blues in a lively dance with vibrant reds and oranges.

There are eight works from 2014’s Ions Series, a highly edited group of 17-inch squares featuring enso-like circles which she rarely closes, allowing her marks to stack in perfect imperfection. The pieces all contain the same title, and her color choices pair exceptionally well with the gold background, judiciously using tangerine orange with yellow and fuchsia, wisps of phosphorescent paint, and just a sprinkling of charcoal to ground the pieces. The action always moves to the edge of the frame, as if catapulted by their electric charge.

Her Moon Sequence series from 2014 is represented with seven works in the show, where she gravitates away from color to primarily focus on charcoals, whites and intermediary grays. Her open circles beckon to the layers above, moving in synchronization towards the corner or edge. These works also incorporate a controlled use of paint, a nice balance of light and power, taking full advantage of the refractive and reflective properties of the paint.

Frankenthal’s works are part of permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, and the MANA Contemporary Art Collection in Jersey City, New Jersey. She has held solo exhibitions in New York City, Southampton and Catskill, New York; and internationally in Antigua Guatemala and Panajachel, Guatemala.

The gallery has planned a special reception later this month, with the artist flying in from New York, scheduled for Friday, November 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“The Space Between” continues through November 25, at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-591-4997,
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney