In the oil paintings of Ann Toebbe, James Kao and Servando Garcia, mutability manifests itself on two levels: The three artists present perspectives on home, family and interior space that vary slightly from one piece to the next—enhanced by subtle shifts in their color palettes.
Toebbe, who lives and works in Chicago, uses blacks and grays to infuse familiar Christmas scenes with bleakness. When she finally lets in some orange, in Night Before Christmas, the warm color lights up the painting, bringing candles and poinsettias to life. Yet Toebbe’s small changes are most significant in Nativity I and II: Viewed side by side, these two canvases at first appear to be exactly the same, but the animals in the Nativity scene switch places in the second painting—a visual trick that calls the viewer’s attention to Toebbe’s transitions but doesn’t enrich their meaning.
It’s difficult to grasp what Kao’s abstract depictions of circular objects on tabletops and other flat surfaces are meant to convey. The Chicago-based artist blends his muted browns and greens into one another, reflecting the show’s theme, yet his heavy symbolism is tough to digest. Garcia, who recently moved from Chicago to San Francisco, alternates between colorful, blurry abstractions and more defined images. One representational effort features a baby immersed in a kitchen sink; other paintings capture a rainbow that appears on a wall in an otherwise empty room. Like Toebbe and Kao, Garcia uses color to underscore his subject matter, shaping the emptiness in Empty Apartment A with muted tones. His work offers the most variation in a show devoted to change.
Click here to check out more art reviews.