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'In The Thick Of It' Is Impressive, But Could Have Been Even More

While Anne Schaefer was here for her two-week stay as artist-in-residence for Harvester Arts, she conquered Shift Space Gallery with her signature stripes and dots for a vibrant installation titled In The Thick of It.

Schaefer’s syncopated rhythms of color and pattern span more than 80 feet. Her painting is methodical, but abrupt changes in her work keep us from getting too comfortable in our expectations.

The majority of this perceptually immersive enterprise adorns a 50-foot section of gallery wall. But when I say “adorns,” this signals a problem. The section was painted on paper, then hung on the wall.

This seems like a small thing, but there is a huge difference between painting directly on a gallery wall and hanging a large painting. Installation art is supposed to fuse with the space directly, seamlessly, and I was irked by this disruption.

Turns out, the paper was a pragmatic issue. Ideally, the paint would have gone directly on the wall, as I discussed with Schaefer at the opening. If there were to be wrinkles and stutters in the paper, she would have preferred to create them digitally as a layering of one more optical game. But that would require more time.

Still, In the Thick of It is impressive and has the good grace not to take itself too seriously. But with limited time and gallery constraints, it feels like just an approximation of what Schaefer is truly capable of.

In the Thick of It is on view at Shift Space until August 9.