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Passing the Torch: Similarities prevail in three generations of abstract artists. 

The highly regimented aspect of the show makes it easy for the viewer to witness the procession of the generations. The work of each of the six poets and painters is organized according to generation, from mentor to student. Despite the pass-the-torch implications of the exhibition, all of the artists — with one exception — are active, and most of the works are contemporary.

Though the similarities between the artists are obvious, each individual brings into his or her work a signature that is unique. "Third generation" painter Valerie Bogdan takes much from the agitated, slashing paint application of the post-World War II New York School, though she also shares a depth and slick graphic quality with her contemporary, Beth Weisgerber.

"Third generation" poet Joshua Poteat, in defining what it means to be influenced by "first generation" Larry Levis, says simply, "Larry is the poet I wish I could be." Poteat comes close to meeting Levis' majesty in the comic clarity of "People Who'd Kill Me (Spain, 1939)."

In Levis' poem "Caravaggio: Swirl & Vortex," he captures the thrust of the exhibition. The poem makes reference to a Caravaggio painting in which the artist depicts his own face in both the youthful visage of David and the severed head of Goliath. The message is one of a continuum — of a blotting out of the individual. Though generations may pass, the same art and ideas will recur through the ages.— Jason Coates



"Pivot Points" run through March 6 at VCU's Anderson Gallery, 907-1/2 W. Franklin St.


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