Fête Galante, a group exhibition curated by Gwendolyn Zabicki and shown recently at Heaven Gallery, is peculiarly timed. Certainly, it’s poignant in this era of social distancing to contemplate our temporary inability to safely party together indoors and out, but most of these paintings—gorgeous and colorful to a one—offer up festive pleasures of which even Dr. Fauci would approve. Karen Azarnia’s glowing, washy “Yellow Lily” has nary a person in sight. The erotic shenanigans got up to by the pair in Katarina Janeckova’s loosely-brushed “Power Couple” are less orgiastic than domestic. The deliciously thick swirls of paint in three floral pictures by Tess Michalik can be consumed solo, like frosting roses on a cake. Kelly Neibert’s “Stormy on a Floral Chair” is no picture of a crush perched on a bar stool; it’s a grey tabby curled up amid dizzying swirls of tapestry, a can of Old Style just visible at the rear. That hottie in the cowboy hat, plaid shirt and diamond earring, posed against a hot pink ground in Greta Waller’s tight little oil portrait? Probably a Zoom date. The largest picture here, Sophie Treppendahl’s picnic, complete with charmingly naïve watermelon slices and cheese plates atop a checkered blanket, frames its two guests at opposite edges of the 6-foot-wide canvas. Shindigs for our times, indeed.
—Lori Waxman 2020-12-03 4:50 PM