Diverse Delurk: 10-year anniversary show at arts-district gallery highlights varied styles favored by its member artists | Arts & Theater

TOM PATTERSON Special Correspondent

Well, not always, but it hardly seems like 10 years since Delurk Gallery opened in the former Urban Artware location on Sixth Street. So the calendar tells us, though.

To celebrate the occasion, the gallery has mounted a group exhibition bringing together works by 30 artists. Sixteen are current members of the Delurk Collective — the gallery’s operational organization — and the rest are former members. It’s a lively selection that highlights the group’s eclectic nature.

While the gallery sometimes tilts sharply toward pop surrealism and what used to be called “lowbrow art,” the range of art it shows is quite diverse. The 10-year show brings this fact home.

On the traditional end of the spectrum are the paintings of Cindy Taplin — closely observed, crisply detailed views of landscapes and their components.

“No Small Feet” is the clever title of Taplin’s close-up view of a gnarled tree trunk and the above-ground portion of its roots, which vaguely suggests the legs and feet of some gargantuan prehistoric reptile. Her intimate view of a tranquil, coastal-plain swamp setting is more straightforwardly titled “Cypress Pond at Carolina Beach.”

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Likewise convincingly rendered, Taplin’s “Old Barn on Sussex Coast” looks a lot like the real-life British farm setting for scenes in “All Creatures Great and Small.”

Chad Beroth doesn’t limit himself to realistic depiction in his portrait paintings, but he’s certainly adept in this vein, as is evident in the collaborative diptych “Captain Kangaroo.” Beroth and his fellow artist Dennis Wells literally split the difference in painting the familiar face of the iconic kids’ TV-show host.

Composed of two separate canvases, the portrait features Beroth’s meticulous realism on one side and Wells’ chopped-up, boldly colored style on the other — comic-strip cubism, you might call it. The show also includes other solo contributions by Wells, including paintings and small drawings.

Although grounded in traditional realism, Holland Berson’s portrait paintings skew toward the pop-surrealist aesthetic favored by a number of Delurk artists. With their bold outlines and lurid colors, they recall the poster art of Frank Kozik.

Patrick Harris has developed his own brand of stylized portraiture, likewise pop-influenced, and often depicting familiar cultural figures. He’s represented here by portraits of punk-rocker Joe Strummer and Southern-gothic writer Flannery O’Connor.

Portraiture is also Delurk artist Zac Trainor’s favored genre, but his humanoid subjects are invariably unrecognizable, their faces indistinct smears of paint in something of a Francis Bacon vein. Trainor’s “Ghost Dog” is stylistically typical, but it’s a creepy dual portrait, and one of the show’s largest pieces.

The latter painting is installed opposite a wall-mounted sculpture by Shane Brumley Ward that’s unrivaled as the show’s creepiest piece. It combines what appears to be a life-cast of a model’s bare legs in ragged-edged gauze with angular wood fragments that vaguely suggest a crucifix. Uniformly painted in a bold forest green, the piece is titled “Laura Collins Shall Rise,” referencing a character on “Dark Shadows,” the proto-goth TV soap opera from the late 1960s.

Other thee-dimensional works on view include Aaron Gibbons’ abstract compositions made from scrap metal and lumber, and an idiosyncratic, quasi-figural piece by Jack Hernon, who also has some of his similarly idiosyncratic, abstract paintings in the show.

John Gall has been showing his work in group and solo shows around the region since forever, it seems. Invariably clever and amusing, his prints and drawings have long employed a quirkily surrealist graphic style that has become instantly recognizable to alert viewers. Examples abound in a portfolio on display in the show.

Gall’s most engaging pieces here, though, are two recent paintings that seem to represent a fresh direction. They reflect the flair for precision evident throughout his work, but the composition is more sophisticated than is generally the case in his graphic art.

The painting titled “The Real First Flight” suggests a multilayered narrative involving the Wright Brothers, the mythical Icarus and Gall’s own personal mythology.

The signature style Laura Lashley has developed over the years serves her well in a trio of small mandala designs and a larger painting of abstracted flowers in close-up. They’re distinguished by a subtle, muted palette that contrasts sharply with her earlier, chromatically bolder work.

The exhibition is uneven in several respects. I’ve sampled only the highlights and a few curiosities. As a reflection of work by younger and mid-career artists in the region and beyond, it’s certainly worth a visit.

Originally scheduled through March, the show has been held over through April, for which I’m glad, as I didn’t get to see it until last week.

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