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Peggy Fox and Nancy Wilson

By Jason Hughes | Posted 11/28/2007

Peggy Fox and Nancy Wilson

At Gallerie Françoise Et Ses Frères Through Dec. 1

Gallerie Françoise's new exhibition space, in the rear of the Clipper Mill development, is inspiring. After walking nearly all the way down the long narrow hallway you enter a spacious room with tall ceilings and windows, rows of columns in the center, and brightly lit walls. The gallery feels like an alternative space in an artist building yet with the refined sensibility of an experienced art dealer and gallerist. Because the space is wide open there are few walls to hang work on, but there is plenty of room to exhibit sculptures and installation pieces, potentially giving the space a great deal of versatility.The second exhibition in Françoise's new space features the work of Peggy Fox and Nancy Wilson. Fox is more of a photographer than not with more than a dozen images on display; however, it appears that every image has been altered in some form with multiple exposures, hand-coloring and -tinting, collaging images, then re-photographing, or adding layers and textures to negatives during the printing process."Burrs Heart" and "Where Spiderwoman Lives" are surreally documented landscapes photographed from atop a cliff edge in New Mexico. The images themselves appear to be totally artificial, like small models that have been made in the studio and photographed as real places. It is difficult to tell exactly what gives the images this deceitful appeal. Their strange earthy tones appear to have been tinted and hand-colored but are so flawless that it is next to impossible to understand exactly where they have been manipulated-and the images are so bizarre to begin with that it is impossible not to question their validity.Similarly, Fox's photographs of koi ponds in China are as beautiful as they are mind-boggling. She created this series of works by taking eight pictures of koi swimming, then combining the images into 13 different compositions. What results are dense blue-black watery backgrounds with bursts of color as the koi appear near the surface. The scale of the fish change within each combination, creating depth and layering. The final prints are like firework bursts in the sky and left me wishing that they were printed much larger.Nancy Wilson's paintings incorporate various techniques for building the canvas' surface. Pieces such as "Earth Mother" and "Sandstorm" layer fabrics, patterns, and colors to create abstract paintings out of Victorian-esque lace and other hand-me-downs inherited from her grandmother. The juxtaposition between periods, style, and sensibility is striking but not always effective. It would be nice to see the layering built up even more rather than just subtly used in places, either through further stenciling or intensified collage. Nonetheless, Gallerie Françoise's new exhibition space is a marvel, and will hopefully continue to push ahead next year with strong exhibitions.

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