Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Last chance for Margaret Fletcher and Michael David Murphy" on BURNAWAY

October 28, 2010
By Jeremy Abernathy

The tiny man who lies on his back in the photograph's center marks an intersection between blind luck and human intent. Above: Michael David Murphy,Untitled, San Francisco, 2006, chromogenic print, 16 x 24 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Spruill Gallery.

Something about Michael David Murphy’s exhibition at Spruill Gallery (closing this Saturday, October 30, with a reception from 3-5PM) strikes the viewer with the photographer’s disarming warmth, spontaneous intelligence, and his refusal to ever stop working. While Murphy’s video installation and photos fill most of the gallery, one room showcases a rather sweet, though understated, series of smart paintings by abstrationist Margaret Fletcher.

Instead of dwarfing the significance of either artist, however, the asymmetry compliments both: Fletcher’s work feels like an intimate solo show seamlessly tucked inside Murphy’s more comprehensive retrospective. The yin-yang schema suggests subtle harmonies of photo-based and traditional media, representation and abstraction, male and female artists, and an established career shown alongside a relative newcomer.

Although the current show counts as Fletcher’s fine-art debut, the two artists have more in common than one might think. Murphy earned his MFA in poetry, but he switched careers and now serves as Program Manager for Atlanta Celebrates Photography. (Click here to read Susannah Darrow’s 2009 interview with Murphy.) Similarly, more than a decade has passed since Fletcher earned her master’s degree in architecture from Harvard, but now she paints. Her design concepts, inspired by her architectural background, are unfortunately easy to miss—she makes “paintings” by applying tiny press-on letters in Helvetica script.

Read Jeremy Abernathy's entire review on

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