4 April 2008 5:08 PM
Painting under the moniker Maru, Marcia Shelly practices a vibrant, broad form of genre painting that touches on such time-honored, pleasure-seeking subjects as the great outdoors, floral still-lifes, figurative portraits, and animal scenes. Her style varies from work to work, as if seeking out the most enjoyable approach: textured mountainscapes, flat and luminous plains, jazzy likenesses, soft-focus blooms, sketchy tourist pictures. Of these, Maru’s vertiginous, oddly-colored peaks appeal most, revealing a parallel between subject and object, paint and referent—the rough, irregular pigment reads as tough and sublime as the real thing, or, at least, a marvelously idealized version of that thing. “Swan,” a quirky illustration of just that, offers a radically alternate take on the depiction of flora and fauna, pitting a suave, abstracted sunset against the inky sketch of a bird. One wonders what would happen if the waterbird took off in the direction of the mountains.