Patterson Transforms Alfstad& With "Airidescence"
For the last week, visitors to the Ringling Museum of Art have raved about the latest installation from multi-media artist Anne Patterson, with its near 24 miles of hanging ribbon transforming the newly opened Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art into an otherworldly experience before any other first impressions could be made. But the New York-based artist did not stop there, trekking across town to Alfstad& Contemporary, where her latest installation, Airidescence, opens today with a selection of watercolors, wire sculpture and ribbon installation comprising a triadic exploration of color, line and movement.
Upon entry, Patterson’s deft manipulation of the space is apparent, with every eyeline occupied and intrigued. To the left, a massive wire sculpture entitled The Sea Is My Sky loops across the wall to a collection of vibrant watercolors. Above, perforated steel slabs hang suspended, ribbons pouring through and streaming to the floor straight as an arrow and startlingly still, their delicacy offsetting the industrial rigidity of the metal. Patterson’s work thrives on this juxtaposition, employing materials and concepts seemingly in opposition and wrangling their inherent push and pull into a harmonious pulse. Steel begets ribbon, metal wire floats and the watercolors on the wall advertise stark and forceful strokes.
“I’m trying to create a leap into my world,” says Patterson of the installation, “which is really full of color and shape—like a total break from reality.” Maybe not a total break, but Patterson’s synesthesia—wherein music brings with it visual stimulation in the form of color and shape—does grant a fresh perspective to what could, in the hands of another artist, be just another landscape. On one wall hangs a series of watercolors depicting ocean rocks off the coast of Rhode Island, their explosive color and abstracted forms coming as much from the objects themselves as the music of Michael Gandolfi and his composition, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, which Patterson listened to while painting. “His music is very colorful for me,” she says, in contrast to something like Mozart’s Requiem, which appears to her largely as a greyish blue. “But [Gandolfi’s] music takes you on a huge journey and I was really connecting to the movements and shape of his music.”
And movement drives Patterson—another reason she finds herself drawn to watercolor in all its unpredictability and immediacy. Whereas oils and acrylics offer numerous opportunities to rethink and edit the work, watercolor by its nature embraces the initial action fully, becoming part of the page once the mark is made and rarely open to negotiation. “Watercolor is a bit of a dance,” she muses. “You don’t have control and you never know exactly what’s going to happen.” But she enjoys the happy accidents, she says, because that’s when the painting becomes a conversation.
Airidescence opens tonight at Alfstad& Contemporary with a reception with the artist. The exhibit runs until December 9.
Pictured: "If You Look Hard Enough The Light Is There" by Anne Patterson. Photo courtesy of Alfstad& Contemporary.