Lindy Chambers’ “Then and Now” at Women & Their Work is a look at rural Texas through color-loving eyes. And while her paintings depict scenes of mobile homes and livestock, her sculptures are non-representational, often wild looking assemblages of materials.
The vibrant “IU-82” (2021), is visible through the gallery window before visitors enter the gallery space. It has a fuzzy round yellow top like a dandelion, a furry body made of black, pink, and yellow fur, and stands on a rolling base. Pink pipe cleaners stick out of it, bending and curving at different angles.
Nearby, low to the floor, “QK-67” (2022) is primarily blue with a long tail that includes a barbell. Electric cords and their corresponding battery packs connect to this tail, which snakes up to the creature’s lump-like foam and paper-mache body. Found objects, rope and coiled pipe cleaners create patterns of spots, one of which looks like an abstracted but smiling face. These sculptures are charming in their chaos. Covered in fur, they have a muppet-like quality. And with titles that are combinations of letters and numbers, they have the same level of anthropomorphization as Star Wars’ R2-D2.
Behind a wall, the order of another sculpture, “L62” (2021), contrasts with the disorder of the creature-like abstract works. Hanging from the ceiling, its elements — a net, a bucket, a roll of duct tape, a pipe and some trash — are carefully balanced. As the sculpture meets the floor, a pool noodle rests precariously on a speed bag. Another sculpture, “R88” (2022) also connects to the ceiling. It evokes Texas summertime through its materials. A hanging hose connects to a furry pink base that’s part grill grating, part wire tomato cage and part fan. A paint can hangs intertwined with the hose, with a tuft of green fur inside like a small succulent growing in an unlikely place.
Chambers’ paintings demonstrate her skill with composition and color.
In a row of paintings near the gallery entrance, drips and streaks are part of Chambers’ highly textured application of paint. Converting light and shadow information into shades of pink and neon yellow highlights, “Full Circles” (2020) depicts a manufactured home with a car out front.
In “Family Time” (2020) the scene again features a manufactured house, this time at Halloween. Conjuring fall trees at night with red and green drips and swirls of paint, Chambers uses saturated colors across the canvas. Smudges of paint and semi-legible words cover the face of the house, representing either holiday decorations or graffiti. Green light glows from the windows, and the steps out front are bright orange. The wet ground (blue) is punctuated by the orange reflections of a family in costumes, whose white clothing elements draw the eye amidst the dark background.
Using a more muted palette, the largest work in the show, “Lambland” (2019) is a joyful, dream-like diptych depicting pastel lambs leaping and twisting through a tangled, organic patch of thorns, vines, and wildflowers. The lambs’ shadows are pastel blue, capturing not just the darkening effect of shadows, but their color effect too.
In other works like “On the drive home” (2018), although representational, seem to prioritize the arrangement of color. This painting depicts sleepy goats and dogs lying near a chain link fence behind a small home. The grass is patchy, forming spots of green in the sandy dirt. And dappled light adds blue shadows to the patio furniture. Each element introduces particular colors that create an overall balanced composition, yet a crooked fence post in the foreground gives it a titled look. In the background, seeming to draw inspiration from the Post-Impressionists, Chambers renders the sky in rectangular patches of orange, gold, and pale yellow.
The show concludes with four still lifes in muted colors that are hard to appreciate after experiencing the vivacity of the eleven lambs a-leaping in “Lambland,” from which they hang opposite. The objects in these paintings are mostly debris — bricks, boards with nails, a tire, a mattress, chain, tubing and other objects. But like in her paintings of outdoor scenes, Chambers pays great attention to arrangement, guiding the viewer’s eye across the canvas with color, shading, form and line weight.
‘Lindy Chambers: Then and Now” continues through May 11 at Women & Their Work, womenandtheirwork.org