Same Roof at the super tiny, brand new Safe Room Gallery is a must see, especially if you are going to a movie at the Texas Theatre anyway. At the top of a very narrow staircase, down a very narrow walkway, the theater has given a small room that still houses the safe the theatre used back when cash storage was something businesses did. The small room has a beautiful black and white chevron-patterned floor. The safe itself is worth seeing, with two smaller safes tucked inside the bigger one, which is kept open.
Stine’s paintings are small. They command attention, but do not by screaming. Hal (Ready), 2010, is the oldest work in the show; one of the photorealistic pet portraits I am used to seeing from Stine. Lush, visceral love comes out of these- they are technically superb, and share information about the bits of soul people share with their pets.
Newer works, Vision 7 and Vision 5, replace Hal with gooey abstraction. Knifed-on paint on toned backgrounds. The marks and color choices suggest Philip Guston. A friend of mine remarked that they seemed as if they were made by a different person, but in common with her older works, the paint is laid down with steadiness and concentration. Stine’s marks are strong and precise even when she is making messy abstractions and the compositions have been slowly built up, not slapped together.
Untitled (Saturn Visit), and Sea Change are the most recent paintings in the group and they both use a trompe l’oeil painting-within-a painting device which to me suggests mediated viewing, forcing us to see the paintings in the gallery distantly, as we might see them on the internet. They both also charmingly use a source image that is photographic serving as a color pallet for an abstraction.
Stine and O’brien are married; that explains the sideways rhyming of the show title and space name, but O’brien’s piece, Sumaru for Safe Room, 2013, feels squeezed in, like it is being forced to relate to Stine’s. Minimal, with aspirations towards spirituality, the precise wooden ziggurats and pedestal are certainly well made, but O’brien’s work is uncompelling, and the contrast between couple’s works seems arbitrary.