August 29, 2014
The more the merrier in the art world?

Albuquerque Journal North
August 29, 2014
Tom Collins

David Richard Gallery
Around the corner from IFAM and also in the Railyard, Fenichel, Botts and Rubinstein sounds like a tough criminal law firm, but it’s really a superb show at David Richard Gallery.

Gregory Botts presents some attractive pale blue, bluer and bluest landscapes in a series of Madrid (New Mexico) landscapes. Cool, quick, thinly painted, nicely composed with hints of Matisse and Milton Avery.

Meridel Rubinstein has been fooling around with photographs since way before it became so easy in the digital age.

Her cut-ups, collages and cubist-oriented works, from traditional photos to photo-based installations, have always had a socio-political edge, if not point, and this is the case now with a three-part exploration of planetary socio-ecological imbalances, “Eden Turned on its Side.” Arcadia Redux? seems to be the question addressed in this blizzard of constructed images ranging from “Photosynthesis,” dramatic deep color specimens of flora and fauna on black ground, to a “Volcano Cycle” examining the destructive regeneration of Indonesian volcanoes, and finally something about the destruction of Iraq and its ancient marshes in the south, purportedly in the neighborhood of the mytho-historical Eden.

Finally, a trio of eye-popping oil on polypropylene color on whiter-than-white “spills” greet you at Lilly Fenichel’s retrospective, REWIND<>REPLAY: 1950-2014. They announce that Fenichel may have saved some of her best work for now and stepped into her own visual Garden of Paradise. Perseverance furthers, it is said, and, after six decades of work, she remains very much at the table and proves the point with these three sublime color-combos – “Bangal,” “Forbidden Fruit II” (speaking of Eden) and “Schiele’s Hand.”

Beginning at the beginning of her career, with the brooding 1950 AE oil/canvas "Ochre, Red, Blue," this compact exhibition allows us to appreciate the work of an artist of keen clinical/critical intelligence — intellectual, emotional, and probably spiritual - responding to her own nature and the culture of her time.

Born in Austria and escaped to California - as far as you could get from the coming horror of Europe in every way - Ms. Fenichel studied at Chouinard Art Institute in L.A., and in a golden era at California School of Fine Art in San Franciso with Elmer Bischoff, Ed Corbett, David Park, et al. Her mostly non-objective work - two-dimensional, and three-dimensional, on- and off-the-wall - has been executed in traditional canvas and paper, and with everything from wood to wood panel, fiberglass, fiberboard, to the aforementioned synthetic polypropylene, most recently.

Eventually, Ms. Fenichel escaped the macho, boys club ambience of the Sixties LA art scene to live and work in New Mexico for the last several decades, from Taos and environs down to Albuquerque. Her visual discourse from AE to post-AE to Pop, neo-Expressionism, color field, even Surrealism, etc.,å has always had more than a tinge of deep Romanticism for all the rigor of its conception and execution. And the stripped-down, in-your-face step into the sensual and sublime of her latest works is evidence of that.

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