Visual Arts

The Nature of Forms and Intentionally Dirty - Dual Exhibitions at Nicole Longnecker Gallery

The current dual exhibitions at Nicole Longnecker Gallery - photographer Frank Sherwood White's The Nature of Forms and Julian Lorber's Intentionally Dirty - both illustrate the erosion of nature through thoughtful and captivating imagery, though the resemblance ends there.

White plays with the shape of rocks, often pitted and marred, seeing the curves of a human form and pairing those images with similarly shaped models. In about half of his pieces he has placed a carefully-lit subject out of the camera's field of vision, then positioned a rough-edged glass near the curved rock, so that the human form is reflected. The results are sublime, especially in Pelvis, where the ghostly image of the model's lap vanishes off the edge, bringing the viewer's eye back to the strength of the curved stone.

Also stunning is his Penis Rocks, with a small army of differently-sized protuberances; the composition evokes images of a multi-fingered hand reaching up from the depths of murky waters.

From the non-glass collection, his Horizontal Torso demonstrates the ephemeral beauty of a reclining nude, so faint that she almost disappears, with the highly imperfect rock dominating the foreground. Though not all of his models are perfect, nor are they all female, White successfully demonstrates the beauty of feminine youth in Gluteus #1, contrasting the cheeky rock with the model's derriere.

Stone Foot, with the reflected underside of a foot, draws attention to the small blemish on both the foot and the rock, while there is something nurturing in the way the woman holds an apple-shaped rock between her hands in Heart Rock. There are a few images of a rock by itself, focusing on the genesis of White's inspiration, but they always seem more interesting when paired with a model.

In the Rear Gallery, Lorber presents textured paintings that simulate the effects of pollution, with fine, powdery layers of "dust" nestling in the cracks and crevices. In almost all of his pieces he has either placed layers of archival tape at different angles, or poured a resin form to produce the same effect, creating dimensionality upon which his dust (air-brushed paint or soot) can rest.

The result is appealing, as in his 38" x 32" Torrential Amber at Dawn, morphing from brown to pale yellow, to sun yellow and finishing with a tangerine orange. Also successful are his smaller 8" x 10" pieces, especially the yellow-gray-pale mauve gradations of Somewhere it hides a well; the icy blue, gray and copper tones of Salt of the Earth; and the bronzed peach and amethyst of Untitled.

The effects of pollution only become apparent over time, with incremental amounts deposited daily. It is within this context that Lorber's other two pieces make sense: the gunk-encrusted desk fans Forgone Conclusion - Mud, Rust & Teal and Forgone Conclusion - Quarry Dust. The fans offer an appropriate counter-balance to his paintings, representing the upward-rising winds that coat our environments with dust and soot.

The Nature of Forms and Intentionally Dirty continue through April 25, at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, open Tuesday to Saturday, 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