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VISUAL ARTS REVIEW: By the Window: Works by Amy Lind

Tender Spirit: Amy Lind's realism somehow beguiles



By the Window: Works by Amy Lind
On view through July 31
Robert Lange Studios
151 East Bay St.
(843) 805-8052

The air may be thick as syrup, and the pavement outside cut into jagged slabs by a construction crew, but the atmosphere within the Robert Lange Gallery is as cool and still as an undisturbed swimming pool.

I've visited this East Bay Street gallery many times and regard it as a place of discordant harmony, a place that offers attractive contemporary paintings as well as refuge from the throngs of clodhoppers who never fail to amble about the sidewalk. But it is also a place that presents artists whose work is attractive and safe.

Recently, I zipped down on my bike and felt genuine relief as I walked through the door. Outside, the mercury was hitting its noontime stride and a construction crew mushroomed dusty gravel into the air. But inside, the handsomely framed paintings and deep sofas, the cold air, and soft murmurs of Coldplay's latest CD brought me to a comfortable state that was ideal for admiring a new collection of work by the painter Amy Lind.

The dozen paintings are entitled By the Window. Lind focuses on women held still by introspection, women who contemplate something out of eyeshot, and women facing the sunshine sifting through their subtly tilted parasols.

Lind's subjects are placed in settings that are urban exteriors or plush, velvety-like interiors — settings that evoke a spirit of candid revelation, or perhaps inward examination, as the women stare beyond us, pretty and composed in their search for whatever it is that has inspired their attention.

"Familiar Air" is a wide, vertical portrait of a woman leaning against an open doorway. Sunlight beams through her blonde hair, her slightly flushed cheeks and glossy lips, and infuses the painting with tenderness and spirituality. But there is a stern brick wall rising behind the woman, and shadows crawl up the lower half of her red dress. Suddenly, you sense what the woman is thinking, feeling, or about to do. The top half of the painting is alive, shimmering with daylight. The lower half lingers near the floor like smoke, the dense hues waiting to rise up.

"Keeping Secret" captures a vibrant rush of blues, browns, and whites. The brown shine of a hardwood floor reflects the legs of a white chair, upon which sits another parasol-holding woman. The woman faces the wall, an enveloping sweep of sky-blue that juxtaposes the soft pigment of her bare back. The woman's elegant anonymity gives this painting a gentility that feels rooted in the South.

"Eyelet Dress" tells the moody, keep-your-chin-up story of a woman left unfulfilled. Her drooping hat conceals her eyes, a lacy black dress and slight frown suggest her hopes have been deflated by a forgotten promise. But she possesses determination and beauty, two traits that keep her attractive to the viewer. The painting is still, reflective, and assured. As you search for clues, "Eyelet Dress" develops a complexity that begs for answers.

Finally, the distinct features of the woman in "Profile." The woman is transfixed by tight concentration, her face's aquiline character a sharp contrast to the bundle of soft golden dreads that dangle behind her head. The woman remains poised for Lind's brush, which creates a timeless, classic painting.

Lind's work furthers the realistic style of painting found at Robert Lange Studios — a type of art that captures moments as precisely as a camera might, but reveals its true nature through brush strokes and color application. Her paintings, along with the gallery's atmosphere, make this is a destination for anyone who appreciates the cool seduction of contemporary art.

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