Art Review

Cornell alumnae fill Pirate's walls for Ithaca

A smart-looking show on display at Pirate combines pieces by three artists who first met in 2006 at Cornell University, which is why the show is called Ithaca, the name of the upstate New York town where the institution is located. It was organized by one of the artists, Pirate member Monique Crine, who included two former students, Leah Thomason Bromberg and Jillian Piccirilli. Though each is doing something clearly different, they work in compatible styles, so the show is a seamless whole.

Crine's photo-realist paintings, on the north wall, are all based on photos of her father taken between 1960 and 1970. They depict moments from his life in high school, in the military, and after the birth of a child. Crine's father was very photogenic, with nearly a movie star's level of visual charisma, as seen in "Richard 1961" (pictured), but that's just one reason these paintings succeed; another would be the fact that Crine is a consummate craftswoman, and the paintings are thus technically superb.

The west wall, given over to Piccirilli, is tiled with dozens of small cyanotypes altered with wax and gouache. These one-off prints are collectively entitled "Hemland," with some presented as single panels and others being diptychs or triptychs. These photo-based montages combine travel pictures from her visits to the ancestral home of her mother's family in Sweden with images of letters and artifacts. Stylistically, there's a neo-dada aspect to them, although the chastity of the imagery also gives them a sort of high-tech look.

Finally, on the south wall, there's a nice group of small representational paintings by Bromberg, some of which depict scenes from her hometown in the South; others refer to her Navajo heritage. Though the paintings are based on photos, Bromberg isn't doing photo-realism, but instead takes a more painterly approach; there's a clarity to her compositions, but there's a lot of expressiveness, too. One charming aspect of her section is the wooden box filled with miniature paintings of old cars.

In addition to Ithaca, Pirate is also host to For Loss of Wonder, a Jason Lee Gimbel solo in the Associates Space made up of monumental figure drawings. Though somewhat classical, the drawings are informal in their rendering and presentation. Some have a quick-sketch look, with the imagery disintegrating at the edges, and they've been done on newsprint paper held to the wall by magnets.

Both shows run through February 16 at Pirate Contemporary Art, 3655 Navajo Street. Call 303-458-6058 or go to for more information.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia