"Noir 12/12," one of four silk-screened prints by RISD senior Matt Durso. Photo by Ralph Stewart
"Noir 12/12," one of four silk-screened prints by RISD senior Matt Durso. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Abode abroad

By Tamar Russell - September 7, 2006

As mini-hurricane winds whipped through Oak Bluffs Saturday night, the mood at Abode's second annual Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) student art show on Circuit Avenue was filled with a youthful yet serene energy. Six students were showcased, three of whom had just finished a year studying abroad in Rome and one who spent last year in Spain. This eclectic show combined multiple genres of art: photography, sculpture, pen and ink, silkscreen, metal and glass work, and watercolor. Music by Lexie Roth and her father Arlen Roth added to the mellow atmosphere. Upon entrance to the warmly lit, narrow, pastel room, the first artist the viewer encountered was Kent Estabrook, son of shop/gallery owner Valentine Estabrook. Next was Brian Hildebrand, followed by Courtney Fallon and Matt Durso on the back wall. Around on the right was Elyse Hradecky, and at the end, Jesse Tane.

Valentine Estabrook had a sparkle in her eyes as she discussed the show. She said the students did a beautiful job hanging their work and spent much time collaborating in preparation for this night. She was thrilled that other RISD students came to celebrate this night with the participating artists. Their spirit of cooperation and mutual support was obvious in the way these young students moved throughout the room.

RISD senior Kent Estabrook, expounding upon his digital pieces to Dennis and Candy daRosa. Photo by Ralph Stewart
RISD senior Kent Estabrook, expounding upon his digital pieces to Dennis and Candy daRosa.

Ms. Estabrook's son's work is in itself a credit to her support of the arts. Kent Estabrook, will be a senior at RISD this fall, is one of the students who studied in Rome this past year. Mr. Estabrook's four pieces employ a fascinating process whereby he photographed an object, projected the image over a three-dimensional object, and then re-photographed the image. The results are intriguing.

In his first image, "Ecstasy of Theresa," the artist used this process as he worked with a found magazine image. This reaction to his art history education regarding St. Theresa and her experiences with God, is sensual indeed.

Following "...Theresa" are three images that come from the same body of experimentation. Mr. Estabrook's favorite is the second image, called "Burns." These last three images are black and white and filled with clean contrast. They are smoothly intense enough to bring you full circle, past them and back again for a second look.

Brian Hildebrand's metal table comes next. Mr. Hildebrand, an architecture student who needed a break, took a step into metal and glass work. It follows that his piece is both oddly useful and artistic. The table in two levels provides holes where glass vases can be placed for growing plants hydroponically.

Rehaau Batliboy, Elyse Hradecki, and Matt Durso standing in front of Kent Estabrook's work Saturday night at Abode's second annual RISD student art show. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Rehaau Batliboy (left), Elyse Hradecki, and Matt Durso standing in front of Kent Estabrook's work Saturday night at Abode's second annual RISD student art show.

The show started at 7 pm and by 8:30 pm Courtney Fallon had already sold two pieces. A painting major who just graduated from RISD, she also spent the past year in Rome. She talked very fluidly about her work and the process of thought that birthed her four pen and ink pieces. Animal lovers, especially those who adore sheep, may well remain near her work upon entering the show.

Ms. Fallon expressed how her meditations in Rome, and throughout her studies, led her to some conclusions. "Our choices often have consequences we are not aware of," she said. Hence her second piece, a sheep wearing a sweater made from the wool of other sheep, illustrating that one cannot or should not build a fortune off some else's back.

Nearby is senior Jesse Tane's three urban photo quads, which he created while studying in Spain this past year. Ms. Estabrook said Jesse's artistic process had been greatly impacted by his year abroad.

One of RISD senior Elyse Hradecky's "Nudies." Photo by Ralph Stewart
One of RISD senior Elyse Hradecky's "Nudies."

On the right wall hangs a series of watercolor portraits by Ms. Elyse Hradecky. A senior at RISD hailing from Texas, Ms. Hradecky also participated in the year in Rome. She said her friends were happy to pose for her. But of real interest was her sculptured figures in the center of the room.

Sculpture is what actually fires Ms. Hradecky. She said she started to work with sculpture in high school and it is her love. Her small sculptures of humans, which she calls "Nudies," are both lively and pensive, somehow personally studious, self-contained and yet open. She said she likes to experiment spatially with the sculptures and "stretch boundaries." She successfully attempts to move each sculpture into the viewer's personal area, whether in form or in location.

The four square pieces on the back wall at first glance did not speak volumes. However, upon closer inspection, they are bursting with story. The first is colorful pop piece. The final three, a series called "Noir 6/12," "Noir 8/12," and "Noir 12/12," are cartoony in nature, strips that tell the story of a mobster in the 1930s and his mysteriously elegant lady. The artist Matt Durso, also a RISD senior, used vast amounts of time and skill to create these silk-screens. He said he loves working with the mood and narrative aspect of these images. After creating the screens, he worked arranging and rearranging them, playing with the storyline, how the blacks worked in relation to one another to create their own objects and then running them through various screenings or printings to add color. He said he was really intrigued by the vagueness of the femme-fatale narrative ability. The level of skill to create this body of work was truly impressive.

For gallery goers, the youthful collaboration at Abode on Saturday night produced a calm energy that made this show the perfect haven from the high winds in Oak Bluffs. However if you missed the opening, the show will remain up until Sept. 22.