Review from Dan's Papers, June 2006

Attraction is a powerful force. Immediate, visceral reactions toa piece of music, the sight of the sea, the glow of the sunset, thescent of a field of flowers on a hot summer day, and the energy ofanother person cannot be explained, and perhaps shouldnt be. With thedesire to share these awesome feelings, words become poems, letters,articles and tomes expressing emotions that are often euthanized by theprocess.

I was at a loss for words trying to describe how I felt as KarenBoltax, owner of the Boltax.Gallery on Shelter Island, slowly, one byone, unwrapped for me the works on paper by artist James Gilroy thatcomprise her next show, opening on Saturday with a reception from 5 8 p.m.

They are not large, at 24x40. They are not brightly colored, the color palette consisting of shades of black, white, beige and grey. They are not narratives to be followed and they have not been created to match your couch. They are, quietly, the sheer, raw power of emotions sensual, sexual, frenetic, peaceful.

Pictured here are three of the 24 works from this show. Rites of spring exemplifies the first group of images, the most detailed and figurative and the most active and passionate. In the second group is abstract figures, in which the bodies are less involved with each other but no less evocative, and untitled shows the strength of the third series of images, which have simpler, looser lines and a more placid aura.

Gilroy uses oil paint, oil stick and graphite on vellum and his paintings glow. The papers have different hues and some of them incorporate the wash of another color, but it is subtle use, and the careful placement doesnt distract from the overall sensibility.

The seductiveness of the lines, the slickness of the oil and the movement of the figures cry out to be touched, and it takes a bit of willpower not to run your fingers across the surface of the paper to feel the beauty and revel in the excitement. When the show is mounted, most of the works will remain unframed, in the same accessible immediacy I experienced. Karen explained that for this show, only her second of works on paper during the entire six years she has been running the contemporary gallery, she thinks it is important to offer the art in that same spirit in which it was created, and framing sometimes dampens the qualities that make Gilroys work so special.

Gilroy is a New Yorker and has been exhibiting his paintings since 1992. I dont know much more about him but I am looking forward to meeting him at the opening. Perhaps he has the words to describe the work I love.

The Boltax.Gallery is located at 21 North Ferry Road, Shelter Island. The website is and the phone is 631-749-4062. James Gilroys works on paper will be up for three weeks beginning June 24th.

—Robin F. Smith

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