SRO Season Closing Party

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End of Show Party for the Aidlin/Swan Exhibt at SRO

On December 23rd at 2pm there was a party to mark the closing of the show of works by Rebecca Aidlin and Lawrence Swan at SRO at 1144 Dean Street near Nostrand Avenue. It was a book end to the opening in early December about which I had written a review (see “SRO Reviews”) on this website. Having liked the show and having tried to explain why in the review, I decided to attend the closing. I was all the more intrigued as the notice said that Swan was going to read poetry and Aidlin was going to play with her group the Angel Band.

When I arrived a bit after two, the place was full and soon Swan went to stand behind a table with a sheaf of papers. He was not going to read poetry but rather a prose piece that broke into four parts. It was both funny and moving. The first part was about unsuccessfully trying to avoid a bore on the subway and later meeting a man in Madison Park who knew the way to heaven, the second was about dealing with a man who encouraged Swan to become a painter, the third was about a relationship in which the woman got pregnant, hoped for a commitment, and ended up getting an abortion. That relationship ended when Swan fell in love with someone else. In the last section Swan wrote about his wife both alive and then in his dreams after her recent death from cancer. Without mentioning her death in my review, it had seemed to me that his works in the show were both about covering up pain and also about transcendence. I called his work “The Tree of Life” a triumph in more than one sense. It seemed a statement of coming to terms with his wife's death and an amazingly powerful work of art. With his reading, I thought Swan filled in a lot of that background.

The other performance was revealing in another way. Aidlin is a thoroughly friendly and open person. Two kinds of her work seemed to me to reveal two sides of her outgoing attitude about life. She did some small masks that, unlike most masks, seemed to be welcoming invitations to the viewer into the mind behind the mask. Two of her pictures seemed to be about the mind reaching out to the world – one a portrait of the mind composing a letter to “Dear Lucian” and the other of a mind forming a mental picture of a garden. The letter was to someone, and I felt sure the garden was going to be the site of some social encounter with talk about flowers, shrubs and how to deal with pests as well as a place where music might be played. Aidlin's band was in the same mode, an informal group that meets in kitchens and gardens and plays funny, satirical and touching songs – not always in perfect tune. They obviously enjoy what they do and their pleasure is infectious. Aidlin several times invited the audience to join in, but it would have been hard without knowing the words, but she so clearly wished it would happen. Then we would all be joined together in the fun with the Angel Band.

It was a wonderful end to a good exhibit and one more piece of evidence for the case that one should keep an eye on SRO. One can get a look at the upcoming exhibits at www.srogallery.com. I heard something interesting is in the works about abstract landscapes in mid-January.

– John DeWind

UpdatesJonathan Judge