Rosson Crow at Honor Fraser February 25 – March 31, 2012
For “Ballyhoo Hullabaloo Haboob”, her second solo show at the gallery, the artist takes a decisive step away from the exuberant and colorful historical interiors for which she is known. The ten large works on view capture a somber and reflective mood. By focusing on mid 20th-century American patriotism, bravado, social upheaval and economic turmoil, Crow draws from the past to comment on the present. The forlorn and stormy landscapes in the sepia-hued Tobacco Road and The Desperate Years, both 2011, evoke the Great Depression. The champagne-soaked Roaring Twenties of Fitzgerald led to a hangover of massive proportions, much like the country’s current straits.
Those two paintings are part of Crow’s dust bowl series, referencing the desolate landscape of the American West in the 1930s. Crow has replaced architectural structure with a looser composition reflecting a confidence and mastery of craft. Crow’s growing interest in abstraction is especially visible in the ticker tape parade paintings. Jackie’s Strength is a significant transitional piece where a structured symmetrical composition provides the framework for a flurry of quick brushstrokes representing the bedlam and hysteria of this moment in US history. April 9, 1968 and Lindbergh for President are the most abstract works of her career. A maelstrom of chaotic marks intimates the outline of flags, figures and paper confetti in the crush of a parade, capturing sentiments of protest and celebration.
Crow has received critical and commercial success for her past series, yet this young artist is clearly not content to rest on her laurels. In this exhibition, she has pushed herself in a new direction both stylistically and in subject matter. She introduces her commitment to this shift most explicitly with the titles of the show and of the individual works. The patriotism of ballyhoo is combined with unrest of hulabaloo and haboob (Arabic for dust storm), evoking chaos and abstraction. –Yasmine Mohseni