malin abrahamsson
Summer sleeper hits at the Newhouse:
Restraint and polish overflow this month at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, where the season's last shows (two painters, an ikebana master/sculptor and a maker of installations) are up through Aug. 31.

Michael J. Fressola

One of the painters, Malin Abrahamsson, has titled her one-woman show "Spills", as in accidental and messy. Odd choice. Nothing about the Swedish-born muralist/panelpainter's work is messy or accidental.

Inspired to reduce an object or a landscape to its essential features without loss of information (tip-toeing the border between fine art and illustration), Ms. Abrahamsson brings both Alex Katz and longtime Island painter Cynthia Mailman to mind.

This kind of painting, severely edited but full of light and air, is difficult because it relies so heavily on accuracy and color calibration. There's no hiding behind fancy techniques, and no barriers. The painting makes room for the viewer. Usually it's the other way around.

The St. George resident painted several pictures directly on the walls. In one, four animated figures-in-outline, undoubtedly teen-agers our young men, move into a snow-covered sparsely-lit, treeless place.

A gnarled tree dominates another wall. A third has a family, also in a painted outline, under a beach umbrella. A tiny, whizzing blue airplane appears on fourth wall, like a remarque.

Sad to think all this will be painted over in a few weeks when the run ends. Among several small and appealing painting on panels, "Stoplights" is just that. Another has a pitbull or bulldog portrait. A third has a silver overpass, minus traffic, under a yellow moon.

Kaoru Motomiya
Across the hass from "Spills", Kaoru Motomiya, a resident artist at the Harbor this year, is thinking about boats and bridges and how to make lyrical connections in inexpensive, lightweight materials.

The artist's recent "Canon on the table" at the Newhouse focused on the perilous allure of food. She's now entered a more public realm.

Five years ago, Ms. Motomiya was in Serbia when bombs wrecked the Novi Sat Bridge. Presumably her stay on the Island, where bridges are everywhere, amplified the memory.

For the current installation, she's made a fleet of nine two-foot long boats out of folded maps and rigged them into a counterweighted suspension span.

Along one wall, viewers will see a wide, gossamer hanging that is woven of floss embroidered with a bridge design realized in yarn and drying dandelions.

The idea that bridges "repair" rifts and join sundered entities gets lyrical handling in a showcase that holds cracked or broken ceramics and other objects repaired in the Japanese fashion, with golden "glue".

JM Rizzi, Chisen Furukawa
Fill a canvas with swinging shapes in a bright, late 1960s palette (pale pink, beige, khaki, rust brown) with carefully "leaded" demarcations and you have some sense of JM Rizzi's lively and altogether entertaining abstract paintings.

The 28-year old School of Visual Arts graduate, a Great Kills resident, builds up from a collaged base until he has a cool enamel-smooth surface in which his sectioned colors swoop and dive.

The remaining show is a meditative space, called "Prayed". It is two 14-foot-tall rectangular columns of illuminated (from the inside) white paper, "hugged" by a layer of reeds coated with white wax.

Japanese artist Chisen Furukawa, an ikebana (flower arranging) master, made the piece, a moment of hushed refinement admidst the stylishness elsewhere in the gallery.

The show, a beautifully arranged thing in its own right, was planned by the Harbor's former director of visual arts Olivia Georgia.