Witt and Wisdom 

Nancy Witt's mastery is appreciated at Randolph-Macon.

"On Alternate Days," an exhibition at Flippo Gallery at Randolph-Macon College, pays tribute to Witt by showcasing 11 of her paintings produced during the last 15 years. This exhibition honors Witt's skill by offering samples of various themes she has repeatedly pursued over the years. But with only 11 images, not all of which are her best, it does so in abbreviated form. Yet even in her less stellar works the artist's smarts and expertise explode, making the show worth the trip.

Witt is a multitalented artist. Not only is she a technical whiz, but she has a gift for composition. Stand before any of her paintings, and she'll have your eye whipping around a canvas before you can blink. One of the artist's most clever visual devices — graceful gestures made with scarves billowing in the wind or with rolling ocean waves, for example — entangle the viewer's eye while distracting the mind. In "Endless Table" she uses a triangular corner of a white tablecloth to urge the eyes skyward and another triangle to urge the viewer's eyes toward the earth. Witt offers such gestures as morsels of a feast and delights in the variety of ways viewers will taste them.

Maybe Witt's greatest gift is a highly developed psychological intelligence or lucidity. Her facility for tapping into the undercurrents of her own being has brought about a vast display of possibility for pleasure on many fronts. In touch with her own mental and emotional states but disinterested in projecting these states on the viewer, Witt has found, probably from years of studying Jungian psychology, respect for each individual's own reality, and in fact, she relishes it when viewers see her paintings differently than she does herself.

"On Alternate Days" is not only the title of this exhibition but also the name of the book Witt published 10 years ago that both chronicles her life as an artist and catalogs dozens of her paintings in full color. The book (look for a copy in the gallery) cohesively represents Witt's relationship with visual imagery and works as a good companion to the show.

One must see this artist's paintings in person to truly appreciate them, and because exhibitions of her work don't happen often, by all means, go see this one. S

"On Alternate Days" runs at Randolph-Macon's Flippo Gallery in Pace-Armistead Hall through June 3. 752-3018.

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