Spoon Popkin

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Spoon Popkin  At Goucher College's Rosenberg Gallery through April 28 , 2006

By Robbie Whelan  Baltimore City Paper, April, 2006

An artist who works with "found art" is obliged to blur the lines between curator and artiste, which can either diminish the authenticity of his or her exhibitions or broaden his or her capacity for expression, depending on how you look at it. Spoon Popkin's solo show, which spans the past six years of the artist's career and is on display at Goucher College's Rosenberg Gallery, has the latter result on the viewer—her found art gives intelligent yet visceral context to the original, expressive paintings she pairs with it.

The meat of the show, however, is the right-hand side of the gallery, where Popkin has placed an entire wall of found art in the midst of her own jarring paintings to create a nightmarish landscape of psychological associations. On the left are a series of watercolors that look like half-completed studies. Fragmented images of statuesque, dismembered torsos, bloated, floating baby faces, and mouths locked in deep kisses are arranged irregularly. All of these images are highly sensual and sexually charged. Popkin's painting has a sense of raw urgency to it, as if these studies, if completed and painted cleanly, would be devoid of emotion.

Popkin's kind of art is, in many ways, some of the most satisfying. It strikes a perfect balance between what she is trying to say to her viewers and what she wants us to take from it. It's a technique that makes a highly effective use of psychological symbols and sexual overtones. As a sort of retrospective, the show is not comprehensively impressive, but you get the impression of Popkin's dynamic creativity.


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Elsie Dinsmore Popkin