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Friday, Sept. 2, 2011

Mark Nash's Abstractions

Marking the Spot at Anaba

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“Anaba,” is the Japanese noun for a little-known but pleasing spot, and, certainly, to sip tea in a room with that name is pleasant experience. The art on the walls at Shorewood's Anaba Tea Room (2107 E. Capitol Dr.) calls for lingering awhile beneath a lush chestnut vine wending over, under and around a glassy skylight.

From Sept. 3 until Oct. 30, the “Continuum” paintings of Chicago-based Mark Nash are on display at Anaba. A real-estate broker who took up the brush to literally paint his way out of a sagging market, Nash's works are colorful abstractions referencing the lay-of-the-land, perhaps Illinois, where he makes his home. Composed of horizontal lines interspersed with circles (suns & moons?), dots and dashes, they are for the most part modernist in tone, flattened and stripped-down to basic forms. Flagstone, an acrylic on canvas, takes a stark turn in black and white, indicating new horizons, the very continuum this painter seeks. In fact, it reminds me of the density in some of the works of a Centerville, Wisconsin artist, another Mark (Tobey), who gained international fame in the realm of abstract expressionism. His skeletal structure underpins Flagstone, and though Nash's tangled organic forms are less dense, it's a direction worth exploring. After all, isn't that what making art is all about?

Of course, art snobs will snipe that hanging their work on walls where people gather to chat and dine, is akin to wallpapering a space. But Anaba is not a fast-food joint; it's serene and civilized and Nash's work compliments the occasion in a little-known but pleasing spot. Get to know this space. It's a pleasure.