Boston Globe Review of Peri Schwartz and Bart Niswonger
By Cate McQuaid | Globe Correspondent
Furniture, paintings at NAGA
There's more urethane and wood grain down Newbury Street in Bart Niswonger's beguiling furniture show at Gallery NAGA. Niswonger casts his urethane against ash panels; the translucent material picks up the wood's pattern. The result, in a piece such as “Green Cabinet,” is like watching eddies and currents in a clear creek. Except they're stilled in lemony green urethane, lodged in a frame of striped dark green wood.
“Ball Side Table” may look more like a playful toy chest than an open side table. Niswonger has carved the tops and sides in a scalloped grid, painted them white, and studded them with bright red balls. Where do you put your glass on such a table? The artist has cast a urethane bonnet, honey-colored and streaked with wood grain, which you can place on top. Beneath it, the balls swim in gold shadows.
Also at NAGA, Peri Schwartz has a deft painting show. She maps her works onto a grid, so at first glance they appear flat, gestural, and purely abstract. But look again: It's a studio space. In “Studio XXVII,” she paints a worktable to the right in pale green that suggests reflective steel or glass. A black table, further back, is stacked with verticals — perhaps the spines of books. A passage of red may be a canvas resting against the wall. Each gesture, each block of color is like a playing card in the house of cards that is this space. One shift, and the scene threatens to collapse delightfully into abstraction.