To check out my new exhibition review of “Big Secrets in a Tiny Town: The Art of Cate Pasquarelli” in the September 2023 issue of the Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, click on the link here:
By Stephen Wozniak
Museum of Embellished History
Curated by Sara Driver
SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2023
625 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
Wednesday, Sept 6, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Sept 7 – Monday, Sept 11, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Cate Pasquarelli’s diminutive yet daring art is a clever reminder that small worlds are often packed with big secrets. Her mighty, magical, figure-free tableaus are like the freeze-frame aftermath of deep, enigmatic scenes from a harrowing David Lynch film or a melancholic Andrew Wyeth painting. They are, in many ways, surreal play stations – discrete theatrical settings where something wicked, wild, and distinctly breathtaking just happened. But it’s always a question of what. As viewers, we act as witnesses: watching, waiting, wanting, wondering, and also asking, “What’s next?” These beautifully crafted works lure us through their lush landscapes and deliver us to the scene of delirium and – sometimes – disaster. On the recommendation of a friend, I saw a few key Pasquarelli sculptures online this time last year, but now that they’re on view in the SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2023, my eyes have feasted and filled up on their mostly three-dimensional, real-life glory.
A great piece in the show is Small Town, which features an inviting, rolling, green, grassy landscape populated by pleasant model train trees, a classic steeple-topped church, and a couple of modest, monochromatic, H0-scaled houses. Though, just as serene-scene comfort sets in, lo and behold, above it all, four tiny helicopters cable-tethered to a white, plantation-style, four-columned mansion carry it away to some far-off location. How could this be? Is this house and what it may represent – power, privilege, and abhorrent behavior – being set out to pasture? Or is the past-we’d-rather-forget-but-must-remember being saved from destruction – or worse, selective reconstruction? Who can say? The piece is playful enough for us to enjoy its folly and fantasy but it also reveals darker allusions to the utter fear and loathing experienced during the times of slavery and deep oppression.
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