From the Ithaca Journal

In the Munich-born painter Elisabeth Gross-Marks’new show “Merry-Go-Round,”recycled materials create conceptual visuals that ask viewers to step inside a world that could be gleaned as a facade or replica of modern society. What’s necessary for viewers is an unassuming and ingenuous perspective in order to view the three-dimensional pieces positioned and hung at State of the Art Gallery this month. If you look carefully you will see that Gross-Marks is transitioning to new media,nostalgic of child-like forms that stray from the Cubist rhythms,patterns,and fragmentations clearly identified in some of her earlier work.

Upon viewing the work,one might associate Gross-Marks with the Catalan painter and sculptor Joan Miro. While Gross-Marks was born at the height of Miro’s artistic ingenuity,the two share the common- ality of not adhering to one particular style,neither abstract or surrealist,but developing into one’s own,drawing on bright colors,simplified forms,and the experimentation of using different materials and media. Like Miro,Gross-Marks’new work,especially seen in her mixed media “Celebration,”is reminiscent of a carnival. Playfulness,lightness,gaiety,magic,vibrant colors,shapes stacked upon a variety of shapes,thin lines and balls,surprising combinations create art one might observe flying in a dream or parading in the Carnival of Venice.
Once you get past the notion that Gross-Marks’art- work is made from found objects such as styrofoam,paper,packaging materials,and egg cartons,you will be able to see the work for what it is or what it isn’t. In “Sunnyside Up”one might think metaphorically in terms of embracing life’s ups rather than life’s down’s,but one can’t help but think they stand over an elaborately colorful table,being served a festive plate of raw eggs.

In “Eyes on You,”the title itself gives a sense of human- ness to abstraction,which,in “Merry-Go-Round,”may be an underlying theme:that our society may be interacting more with computers,robots,and cold data,rather than other human beings,encouraging people to remain distant and reserved. In fact,engaging with objects for this generation hardly perpetuates meaningful relationships.
The obsession with material,as opposed to face-to-face meetings,removes us from the magic of life Gross-Marks is desperately asking us to participate in,which would explain the entertaining colors that Gross-Marks hangs onto in order to improve the bond we have with others and with our imaginations.

The artist strays from her rainbow of colors in “Long Divisions,”using bed springs,pieces of glass,boxes,and steel to create arcs and angles that look like the inside of a watch. Its circular shapes take focus in space depicting eyes or cameras filming its viewers. Standing on its own,and in contrast to the others,this piece,possibly representative of a dark period in the artist’s earlier life,brings forth the other highly charged pieces clearly challenging that dim thread of thinking.

“Merry-Go-Round”runs at the State of the Art Gallery through Sunday,June 29. There will be a special dance performance by Maren Waldmen at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday,June 18. Visit for information.

Other Reviews

Lynne Taetzsch visited Elisabeth’s 2008 show and made comments on it on her Abstract Art blog —Recycled Sculpture by Elisabeth Gross Marks

Jim Catalano reviewed Elisabeth’s 2011 show at the State of the Art Gallery — Cascades of Color”:Elisabeth Gross-Marks showcases latest work at State of the Art,on the website.

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