With a new year comes new beginnings and a chance for a fresh start, or as some may say, go back to “square one.” The Carlisle Arts Learning Center’s third juried show takes that advice to heart in the exhibit themed “Square 1.”

Works in this exhibit were to be the artist’s interpretation of that theme. They considered the use of the square, the numeral 1 or the concept or interpretation of the phrase in their entries. There were 78 entries that answered the call, and 40 were selected for inclusion in the exhibit, from a mix of both local and East Coast artists.

Tim Hoover’s “Outside the Lines” is a large, acrylic painting, colorfully illustrating the squares of the theme in a grid pattern. The shapes vary from very sharp and distinct to seemingly melting into abstraction at the edge of the canvas in gestural brush strokes.

Photography can also capture geometric shapes in unexpected locations, as in Janet M. Powers’ “Balconies.” Her digital image of an ultra-modern high rise brightly lit by the sun, has identical balconies of blue glass. The constructions that make up the building, as well as the shadows cast upon it creating symmetry of repeating patterns, makes the photo less about the building than the forms found within the picture.

Andrea Jacobsen approached the idea of “Square 1” in multiple ways with both a monotype as well as an interactive exercise in “After Winiarski.” Her monotype is constructed of 144 small squares of various colors. The colors of the 12 squares by 12 squares were determined at random by a pair of die with the various colors on each side. By rolling the die, Jacobsen created order of the colors at random. The interactive aspect of the piece allows the viewer to also roll those same die, also on display, to create their own squared grid.

In a ceramic piece by Maureen Joyce, the concept of the round peg in the square hole takes form in, “Fitting In.” The square column has human features with a face in one of its sharp corners, yet a rounded shape protrudes from the top and bottom. The rounded interior conforms to the shape of the square container, but can’t hide its rounded nature as it escapes above and below the hard edges.

Rita Van Alkemade’s mixed media assemblage of ceramic, wood, metal and hemp is a two-sided diptych titled “Beyond Eden.” Square wooden boxes lined with a wire mesh contain the casts of a face, neck and hand. Each of the parts is bound by hemp rope affixed to the box-like frames. The dark casts resemble an ancient mummy that alludes to a mysterious, unspoken story.

In another, yet very different assemblage, Elisabeth Jacobsen combines building block shapes made of balsawood inside a found cigar box. The result in “Arcology” is a mini-cityscape with rooftops, peaks and spires, all intricately fitted together like a puzzle with the confines of the box. The term Arcology refers to combination of architecture and ecology in building a new model of urban living, a fitting exploration of new possibilities within the square.

Raul Barquet uses vintage magazine pages, monopoly game money and oil paint to send a message to instruct “Do Not Pass Go.” Illustrated with the well-known imagery of the policeman from Monopoly, the hand-lettered message on the diamond shaped sign combines a nostalgic Pop Art image with a message that can either be read as a warning or a call to move forward.

“Square 1” is an intriguing exhibit that selected a range of artists who responded to the theme in ways from literal to conceptual. This is one exhibit where thinking outside the box became the norm and served as the common thread woven throughout the gallery.

“Square 1” is on display at CALC until Feb. 3. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday or by appointment. CALC is located at 38 W. Pomfret St., in Carlisle. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.CarlisleArts.org or call 717-249-6973.

Joseph George holds a degree in history and art history from Dickinson College. He and his wife, Barrie Ann have spent much of their 25 years together traveling and visiting art galleries locally and throughout the world. They have been writing about the local art scene for five years. Their tastes range from fine art to street art.

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