In the art world these days, plans can change at a moment’s notice.
As recently as early March, gallerist Michelle Brandt was planning an April exhibit of works by Columbus artist Christopher Burk at her Short North gallery, Brandt-Roberts Galleries. The show was to feature a new series of paintings that comment on climate change by presenting flooded environments eerily absent of people.
Then the coronavirus crisis emerged.
On the heels of orders from state officials that began restricting gatherings, Brandt and Burk decided to postpone the exhibit. Then, following the ban on nonessential business activities that went into effect March 23, Brandt shut her gallery doors altogether.
“Part of the privilege of having a gallery is having people be able to come into your space and having a dialogue with them about the art,” Brandt said.
“On Monday, when I went to lock up, that’s what was really tough for me: ‘Oh my goodness, how are we going to share this wonderful creativity’?”
Like many central Ohio gallerists, Brandt turned to the internet.
Since temporarily suspending in-person exhibits last month, the gallery has been presenting virtual exhibits, featuring high-resolution images of works alongside videos offering a quick tour of the physical space.
The latest such exhibit — “Selected Contemporary & Post-War Works” — went online Wednesday and will be accessible at brandtrobertsgalleries.com/virtual-gallery-selected-works through the end of the month. The show spotlights past- and present-day artists whose work the gallery had on hand.
Viewing art online can be challenging. Lost is the experience of scrutinizing a piece closely: Looking at a web page, the viewer is unable to perceive the texture of, say, an oil painting; three-dimensional works, such as sculptures, suddenly become depth-less.
The quality of the works in the current Brandt-Roberts virtual exhibit, however, are clear even on a computer monitor.
Highlights include Richard Lillash’s work in oil “Studio Table Still Life #18,” which presents an artist’s colorful, congested work space, consisting of a sketchbook, cups holding brushes, tubes of paint and, rather mysteriously, a human skull.
Equally vivid is Jason Morgan’s acrylic-on-canvas “Go Ask Alice,” a photorealistic take on “Alice in Wonderland”: The close-up view of objects on a playful checkerboard surface features a shiny silver rabbit positioned beside other items that suggest the story, including a playing card lodged within a clear marble; a portrait of Alice herself looms in the background.
Other works include evocative portraits in charcoal and encaustic by Nick Reszetar, chunky sculptures in wood and steel by Stuart Fink and several flood paintings by Burk related to the body of work that was to have been debuted at his postponed solo show.
Also continuing operations online is Keny Galleries, which is presenting the entirety of its current exhibit, “Lyricism & Contemporary Art,” at kenygalleries.com/upcoming-exhibitions, through April 20.
The exhibit features pieces of such subtlety that viewers will be forgiven in wondering whether they translate online; happily, most do. Neil Riley uses thick, rough applications of paint to summon assorted natural scenes, including dark clouds forming over water in the watercolor-on-paper “Lido Key” and a wintry clearing just starting to melt in the oil-on-board “Thaw.”
Alice Carpenter is represented with a series of inky, brilliant monotypes, most of which show scenes illuminated, just barely, by the moon, including “Waxing Crescent,” in which a sliver of a moon hovers over a series of structures.
Loveliest of all are works by Mary Jane Ward, whose refined line is shown to great effect in her still lifes of apples, rendered in monochromatic charcoal, graphite and ink wash.
Appropriate for those relishing spring’s arrival are Ward’s floral paintings, including “Tracy’s Peonies (Pink and White Peonies)” — a work whose dainty exquisiteness shines through regardless of where, or how, it is viewed.