The American Gallery is alive with color and movement this month. Jim Ladd's watercolor abstracts seem to dance on and even off the walls, interacting with Jim Yarrito's sleek and shiny glass sculptures.
It's a pleasing combination, free as spring blossoms drifting on the breeze, bright as new green leaves opening on trees.
At first glance, however, Ladd's paintings may fool you. They seem almost too quick, too simple to warrant a second look. But look again, get in a bit closer, and the underpinnings emerge, providing a visual ostinato to his exuberant sweeps and swirls and curls.
Beneath the color there is line and repeated pattern, the hint of a
draftsman's grid, the bracketing of Ladd's own distinctive signature, which frames the denser center of each work like guides in a camera lens.
Look once more and you find deeper intersections, depth created by light and dark contrast, and the occasional recognizable shape.
Woman and Child, one of the few works with figurative quality, sums up safety and nurture with swooping line, softened colors, and interlaced heads. Trills of watercolor splotches give a starry quality. A painting titled No Two Ways About It is clean and bright, playful slashes of yellow and blue.
Best of all is You Can't Get There From Here, a tumult of red arrows, geometric shapes, and arcs seeming to bounce off each other with infectious Kandinsky-esque energy.
Yarrito's glass seems to have absorbed some of the brightness, particularly the series of wonderful slumped vessels called Pouch.
You don't need deep pockets to buy one of his appealing pouches in green, mauve, blue, and clear glass, each infused with dashes, slashes, and dots of bright color.
Gallery owner Toni Andrews has used wall color to create appealing vignettes that bring together painting and glass - a marriage of esthetic that will last at least through the month.
Hours at the American Gallery, 6600 West Sylvania Ave., in Saxon Square, are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.