The stillness and sense of space created in a room of painted white walls, with a painted white fireplace, original to the building that houses it, is challenged by a large sexy photo of the torsos of a pair of almost nude lovers kissing, the man's hand moving to remove the woman's bra strap. The tones of fleshy pink that almost uninterruptedly make up the composition are accentuated by the garish cheapness of a gilt production-line frame. Artist Anne Angyal's photograph hangs above the white mantelpiece, creating "heat" near an appliance no longer capable of producing its own.
Gestures: An Exhibition of Site-Specific Work is the latest in a series of shows at the Monterey Street extension of The Mattress Factory, in which artists are invited to each produce a piece of work relating to a specific space. This year, 24 artists participated, twice the number of previous years. They have been encouraged to create completely new works that may have little or no relation to their previous practice, and to think about how their work engages with others in the galleries. In the domestic-sized spaces of the Mattress Factory extension -- a former rowhouse -- the unthemed collection of works jostle for place and attention.
Climbing the narrow stairs to the upper galleries, one becomes aware of architects Jen Luchino and Freddie Croce's "Untitled" (2006), composed of multiple rows of yellow nylon string, zigzagging in sheets across the narrow ceiling, around a corner and up the stairs. The differing densities of yellow where the strings crosshatch, combined with the movement created by the viewer's changing perception as he moves under the piece, create in the consciousness a disorientation and heightened awareness of space.
On entering the first room upstairs, one is inundated by the scent of Bob Zehmisch's "Masala Dabba" (2006), in which bowls laden with spices are arranged on a wooden shelf, above which hangs a grid of color photographs of Indian street scenes, each approximately 9 by 7 inches. Looking at the rich colors of the spices, one thinks of bowls of artists' pigment.
Across the room is a piece that might have been painted using these same "pigments." Kate Temple's "Harvest (color) or Remedy for Winter Listlessness" (2006), utilizes the differing hues of yellow obtained from marigolds, chrysanthemums, buckthorn berries, saffron, St. John's wort, gold and borax. Four concentric circles of differing concentrations of yellow radiate outward in diminishing intensity, like the sun's rays. A soundtrack of summer crickets, though competing with the noise exuding from other nearby artworks, facilitates reflection on the seasons. A simple, painted white chair allows for contemplation.
Gestures: An Exhibition of Site-Specific Work continues through Sun., Jan. 7. The Mattress Factory, 1414 Monterey St., North Side. 412-231-3169 or www.mattress.org