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The Boston Globe

Perspectives

Published February 16, 2000 by Christine Temin, Globe Staff
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What unites the solo shows two Boston artists at Clark Gallery - monoprints and paintings by Ilana Manolson and glazed stoneware vessels by Bruce Barry - is their shared organic quality. Manolson, who uses everyday objects to express emotional states, and whose exploding house series of many years ago suggested a world of disorder, here focuses on a simple flower bulb. Her world, the image suggests, has calmed down.

Most of Manolson's works at Clark are monoprints, each with a bulb in some stage of its natural cycle. Root systems dominate; some are long and lacy others tenacious and muscular. Roots and bulbs are, of course, generally unseen, covered by earth; in revealing them, Manolson also reveals their strength and ultimate vulnerability. Some bulbs are in bloom but the flower is the least of what's happening here, the tip of the iceberg. Some flowers droop like Barry's pots; one stem arches extravagantly, as if trying to go somewhere else.

Manolson floats her bulbs in ambiguous environments of mossy greens, creating a kind of bulb heaven. An exception to the general serenity of these works is the seven-part series '”Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die." The words of the title are stenciled on backgrounds as tumultuous as an ocean in gale-force winds; in the center of each print is bulb trying to ride out the storm and get on with life.

Barry's and Manolson's works are at Clark Gallery in Lincoln through Feb. 24.