at Conduit Gallery through March 24th
by Todd Camplin

Conduit Gallery has the best project room in town, and if you think you have read
that from me before then you would be correct, but it is worth repeating. To prove
my point, Conduit is exhibiting the work of Erin Curtis, who graces the project room
with her very colorful and almost irreverent approach to painting. I see a true break
from a 500 year old stretched canvas tradition.
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In order to innovate, Erin Curtis reaches further back to tapestries and textile arts for inspiration.
In a work like “Zodiac,” the canvas is hung on the wall with rod and string and flows down like
a flag. The string is draped over a decorative cube that acts as a means of hanging the canvas
and as a colorful counterpart to the canvas. The canvas is painted with bright earthy colors
that repeat with patterns, but it also has random elements. I see a little crazy quilt influence,
a little Southwest Native American rug consideration, and a whole lot of world traveling
experience seeing textiles which have come into play in each of Curtis’  paintings.
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In contrast to the tapestry paintings, there are framed paintings like “Best California Parking.”
This work floats in the frame, but the painting still feels like a segment of ancient textile, only
the image depicts a very modern building. Curtis’ color choices make the building and
background feel folksy while the image is clearly a tough urban setting. The lines in the
sky and building give the picture an orderly minimal structure only broken by the chaos
of the hap hazard lines of the ground. It would seem that Curtis has mastered a balance
of order and chaos in each of these works.
Best California Parking (Santa Monica), acrylic on paper, 22.5" x 30"     
Erin Curtis is very skillful at blurring the lines between the established fine arts and the craft world.
Curtis is hybridizing the painting and textile influences to create a conflicting aesthetic experience.
On the one hand, the traditional painter in me is shocked and pained by what I see, but the Post
Modern art punk in me says, “right on Curtis, be fearless in your art production!”
Nightsky, acrylic and mixed media on paper, 23.5" x 9"
Zodiak, acrylic on canvas, 80" x 48"
Abra, acrylic on canvas, 60" x 40"        
Erin Curtis’ work is up with Ludwig Schwarz and Joe Mancuso. Schwarz’s exhibition mixes painting
with assemblage sculpture that so interests me, that his show deserves a separate review. I hope
I can fit him in the next few weeks. All three shows run to March 24th.