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Garden State Art Weekend preview: 11 must-see exhibitions by Tris McCALL April 17, 2024 (Excerpt)




“Remains” by Andrea McKenna and “Indelible by Trish Gianakis at Watchung Arts Center, 18 Stirling Road, Watchung


And while we’re on the subject of dialogues, there is a deep and rewarding exchange going on in the eastern Somerset hills. At Watchung Arts Center, curator Paul Pinkman has gotten awfully good at pairing artists who speak to each others’ concerns in unexpected ways, and in Andrea McKenna and Trish Gianakis, he has found superficial opposites who approach similar themes from radically different angles. McKenna, who paints faces in rusts, grays and depleted institutional greens on burlap and hangs these doleful banners on found wood, captures her subjects in a transitory state between life and death. Gianakis, champion of the bold gesture, creates portraits of adamantine characters and invites audiences to approach these near-superheroic figures through XR codes and other digital tricks. McKenna’s work is solemn but full of spiritual motion; Gianakis’ is forceful but also curiously still. They’re both pushing towards the transhuman experience — a state that awaits us all in an uncertain future where our identities are absorbed into the mechanical and the digital, or into the long blur of time itself.

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