Rod Penner's small, meticulously painted landscapes of Texas and its environs, all from the last three years, pack a hefty amount of big sky and small town into their abbreviated formats. Penner pictures cafes (including a beautiful one showing a neon "Mexican Food" sign's reflection shimmering green on the rain-slicked surface of the parking lot), as well as convenience stores, laundromats, garages, houses along highways, nondescript main streets, and strip malls. Numerous gas stations are shown that might or might not be abandoned.
Often huge signs rise overhead with a single work or phrase, such as "Gas" or "Pray for Rain" - a kind of heartland haiku, and also the paintings' titles. In these evocative, people-free paintings, Penner gets the light right, and, in so doing, captures the spiritual emptiness.
Suzanne Caporael also showed small, carefully composed works that, in their way, relate to Penner's paintings. Her collages and paintings on newspaper were more formal than his; the geometric configurations are scaled-down versions of hard-edged abstractions. However, there are glimpses of the New York Times' newsprint, the dates usually visible, resembling an updated Cubist work with a nod to Schwitters and others. Her titles, including such phrases as (like the wisdom of Smith) and (like your wandering eye), both 2012-13, also tilt the content, playing with slippage between image and word and creating their own poetic arc.
Caporael, a colorist of talent, has thoughtfully and sensitively pieced together compositions that ask us to slow down and focus on the act of perception. As shapes and hues elegantly discourse, as spatial relationships become complicated and resolved, the meaning of the works can be found in the eye, mind, and hand.