Approaching Abby Glassenberg and David Hale’s “Birds of a Feather,” my first instinct was to explore the significance of birds in art work. What ideas do they represent that warrant an entire gallery exhibition in their name? From Brancusi to Hitchcock, birds have shouldered many metaphors throughout art history. Their varieties are as limitless as their cultural associations. Yet, through subsequent visits to the space, I came to realize that the beauty in this exhibit is not hidden in the endless interpretations of flight, but in the unity of the work along with the breadth of craft and technique utilized to create a world as pleasing in its entirety as in its details.
While David Hale and Abbey Glassenberg’s approaches differ in terms of materials and process, each artist’s work meets at a surprisingly similar aesthetic. At the heart of this cohesion is the limited color palette, rarely deviating from grey scale and earth tones. In addition, Hale’s reliance on wood and natural canvas sets the perfect environment for Glassenberg’s subtly patterned birds to call home. Integrating the work of each artist together throughout the gallery along with the inclusion of found objects creates a space that begs to be explored. If there is anything to complain about with regard to the show’s composition, it’s the lack of balance between the two long walls of the gallery. Something about the far wall failed to capture my interest the way the near one did.
Looking at individual pieces, one senses a formulaic nature to the bulk of this work. Glassenberg’s soft sculptures mimic actual birds without much in terms of stylization beyond her textile choices, and Hale’s drawings often seem like cut and paste exercises with added automatic flourishes. However, the exhibit’s real strength comes from the endlessly impressive variety of tactics employed by Hale and the exquisite craftsmanship that Glassenberg exercises, despite the two artists’ somewhat limited exploration of the subject matter. Content, one of two oversized scrolls by Hale, includes hand drawn imagery and well as altered pages from books and found illustrations, while Anatomical Afterlife is an extremely tactile image paired with beautifully textured rows of paper strips that mimic bamboo flooring. Hale even ventures into bookmaking with Feathers, a glorified zine bound with twine under a natural wood cover. Glassenberg’s centerpiece is a pair of peacocks, one of her largest pieces and one of her smallest. In Helaine, the larger of the two, subtle changes in fabric create an elegant gradient of feathers resting on a pair of magnificently executed talons.
The birds in this show serve primarily as a vessel for two talented artists to convey their vision. Creative and well crafted details combine with a tasteful and unified aesthetic to make “Birds of a Feather” one of the most visually pleasing, if not most successful shows yet at Young Blood Gallery‘s new space.
“Birds of a Feather” is on view at Young Blood Gallery through March 29.