Exotic shades of ordinary colors

The recent artwork of Marilyn Kirsch
goes on display at an architecture studio

Laura E. Crossett
Icon Iowa City, July 8-14 VII 1999, p. 11
MARILYN KIRSCH    Contemporary Abstract Painting and Photography 
Baie de Quiberon by Philadelphia artist Marilyn Kirsch. Her abstracts are rich in lush, almost exotic, shades of seemingly ordinary colors.
Copyright 1998, Marilyn Kirsch*
* Photo of Baie de Quiberon which appeared in the original article published by ICON was taken by Mike Breazeale

On a recent Friday evening in downtown Iowa City, local denizens of the arts could be found strolling around, surveying the latest construction, or destruction, depending on whom you ask, on the ped mall, enjoying food and drink from outdoor vendors and, periodically, ducking for cover from the intermittent rainshowers. Luckily, on this particular evening, there were a lot of fine places to duck into, as it was the annual Iowa City Gallery Walk, put on by over a dozen local businesses dedicated in whole or part to the displaying of new works of art. One spot on this walk was AKAR ARchiTecture and Design, now showing recent works by Philadelphia artist Marilyn Kirsch, who was on hand for the opening of her show.

Tucked away on the first floor of the red brick building on the corner of College and Gilbert streets, where once there was a parking lot, AKAR is a stylish and elegant space of models, diagrams, designs and paintings. Although AKAR is primarily an architecture firm, proprietors Sanjay and Jigna Jani are quick to point out the connections they see between art and architecture and to explain that architecture is, or ought to be, "art to live in." They frequently create objects for the insides of the houses they design, and a number of these are on display in their office. In addition, however, they show their devotion to the arts by providing gallery space for artists like Marilyn Kirsch.

Kirsch's works, consisting mostly of oils with a few paper collages, are abstracts, rich in lush, almost exotic shades of seemingly ordinary colors that lure viewers in. Kirsch explains that early trips to Italy are responsible for her attention to and love of color. Reds and greens are the predominant pigments, and many paintings are rendered almost solely in one or the other of these colors. "Among Other Things," a large canvas in shades of red and black, seems almost to be an inverse of two other paintings, "To Be Found Wanting" and "The Weight," both of similar size, rendered in alluring shades of green.

A few paintings come closer to actual representation, depicting
mostly various kinds of spaces
, rooms, doorways or vistas. A particularly striking painting, "Baie de Quiberon," shows a
harbor in which, at various times, you can see the hints of ships moored, or lights in the distance, all mingled with the mauves and reds and greens that make up the shifting patterns of the painting.
It is this ability of the colors and shifting shapes of the paintings
to lure you in that most seemed to captivate the viewers
at the opening reception.

Kirsch herself is a charming woman, who chatted happily with visitors about her work and her life. A number of those who came to the gallery that evening were artists themselves, and Kirsch always seemed ready with a friendly word or nod of encouragement for those who approached her. Kirsch is from Philadelphia, and she met the Janis through friends of hers for whom they had designed a house. Some of the conversation that evening revolved around the difficulty of conveying anything about art through words. Kirsch admitted that she herself had troubles when asked to describe her work. Luckily, however, it is not the job of artists to find words for their work: That task is left to the critics. Art can, and should, be allowed to speak for itself.

Kirsch's paintings remain on display through Aug. 15, ready to offer up their vibrancy to any who choose to stop by.

(C)1999, Icon Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.