‘Dreamsicle’ (not the ice cream) is a delicious confection for the eye

“Dreamsicle,” on view at Atlanta Contemporary through March 27, is an exhibition of works by Stacie Rose, Rachel K. Garceau, and Gracelee Lawrence. It brings up the question of the female gaze in relation to nature and to the artificiality of artists’ languages of color, form and abstraction.

Nature is strongly present in the works here, swirled together with a heavy dose of Disneyfied reality like the orange and cream of the ice cream concoction of the title. Dreamsicles, for those who may not remember, are made of vanilla ice cream (or ice milk) coated with a bright and highly artificial orange shell on a stick. They can also be a swirled ice cream where one side is vanilla and the other side is orange, melding and enhancing one another in a delicious spiraled peak.

The essence of the dreamsicle is the concept of two colors and two flavors that contrast with each other and become something more by being combined. The result is a treat for the eye; it is indeed proverbial eye candy. Titling this exhibition after this sweet, cold and cheerful treat from the last century calls up colors and flavors from memories of childhood innocence.

The exhibit is curated by the artist collective Day & Night Projects, whose mission is to present artwork in noncommercial gallery settings. Positioned in the circular gallery at the entrance, the artists’ respective works are cleverly juxtaposed. Each has its own presence, but also is very much in dialogue with the others around shared notions of abstracted nature filtered through the lens of contemporary media and imagery.

Credit: Mike Jensen

Credit: Mike Jensen

Two artworks have migrated into the hallway where you enter or exit, reinforcing the notion of a new natural order creeping into, and taking over, the galleries like a mutated organism. Art in the time of COVID-19 cannot help but reflect the utopian or dystopian ideas of growth and regeneration that are present in these artists’ works.

These three artists make similar references to nature and abstraction in works that reflect a modernist viewpoint. Entering the tiny cycloramic gallery, the viewer first sees a direct wall painting by Rose, “Effluence,” 2022, that cascades down the wall like a waterfall of color and graffiti-like forms. Rose has developed a pictorial language, a system of forms that overlay one another, with the floating character of a dreamscape.

Rose’s large, black brushstroke ripples and curves, bringing the surface to life through its liquidity. Her light pink doodles, like notations in cotton candy, and the Ben-Day dots that create a kind of screen, make the painting spatial through layering. Rose’s little painting on panel, “Flow from Without,” 2022, hangs beside her wall work and uses some of the same language, but its space is more compressed. This work is back-painted so that a soft glow of hot pink radiates onto the wall where it is hung. Rose creates a kind of urban charm by taking the format of graffiti and revamping it into a new view that combines drawing and painting.

Credit: Mike Jensen

Credit: Mike Jensen

Placed in the corner of the curved gallery space is Garceau’s “hold caress rest,” 2022, composed of unglazed porcelain pastilles piled up like an embankment of stones which have been washed to geometric perfection by a river or sea. There is a delightful play on the geometry of nature in these works, whose utopian perfection suggests a natural world gone orderly. These smooth, ovoid pebbles vary in size (some are like small footballs, others like stones). Their forms are familiar, yet their creamy, nearly white palette and perfect shape locate them in the realm of the unreal.

Fantasy is the first word that comes to mind when viewing the work of Lawrence. Her four small rotating sculptures sit on yellow, lavender and pink pedestals. Her sculptures are like the little music boxes where a tiny ballerina slowly spins around on a rotating turntable. Lawrence has replaced the usual cloying feminine dancing figures with delightful collections of strange fruits and vegetables in unexpected hues.

“When Language Fails (Rotating),” 2022, is a wonderful play on some kind of double cherry crossed with a raspberry in a bronze-like color. This sculpture is a small tower composed of the fruit form that sits on a mirror, supported by a 3-D printed, pink plastic layer composed of cells and bumps that one might see on a gourd or other vegetable. The sculptures’ 3-D printed plastic bases are colored in precious and luminescent pinks that recall Rose’s palette, except for one printed in an intense turquoise.

These sculptures depict strange hybrids of fruits: double raspberries/cherries, small hot pink pumpkins made of bananas, a large, cut, purple strawberry that reminds one of a Venus flytrap with its open mouth, and funky floral forms that are totally unreal, but whose charming presentation recalls the toys and experience of female childhood gone deliciously awry.

The combination of these three artists in this small space is like that delicious swirl of the dreamsicle, evoking a memory of confections of the past as seen from the perspective of three powerful, contemporary women creatives.

VISUAL ARTS REVIEW

“Dreamsicle”

Through March 27. 535 Means St. NW, Atlanta. 404-688-1970, atlantacontemporary.org.


Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL

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ArtsATL (www.artsatl.org), is a nonprofit organization that plays a critical role in educating and informing audiences about metro Atlanta’s arts and culture. Founded in 2009, ArtsATL’s goal is to help build a sustainable arts community contributing to the economic and cultural health of the city.

If you have any questions about this partnership or others, please contact Senior Manager of Partnerships Nicole Williams at nicole.williams@ajc.com.