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Mary Bucci McCoy
Gray Contemporary, Houston, Texas
Recommendation by Donna Tennant

Mary Bucci McCoy, "Crux," 2016, acrylic and iridescent iron oxide

Continuing through August 20, 2016

The small oval painting just inside the gallery’s front door sets the tone for the rest of the show. “Crux” by Mary Bucci McCoy is a dark painting on panel with a nuanced surface punctuated by an area of acrylic mixed with iridescent iron oxide. The effect is both elegant and intimate, drawing the viewer in close to see the details. Turning toward the main gallery, one sees “Transmission,” a pale rectilinear painting characterized by distinctive brushstrokes on a monochromatic ground. Touches of purple appear along the top edge of a surface that is mostly white with subtle waves of lavender flowing across it. This painting is small, as are the other eight pieces in the show — just 10 1/2 inches tall by 8 1/2 inches wide — and deliberate, which is calming.

There is a sensual quality to McCoy’s work that reflects her pleasure in creating it. She lives on the Massachusetts coastline and spends time in nature, lingering near the ocean and noting how the light and water reflect changes in the weather and time of day. These impressions are often translated into the abstract forms and marks that appear in her paintings. McCoy’s paintings articulate figure-ground relationships, as well as three-dimensional qualities that result as she builds up the surface with thick strokes or mixes paint with other materials, sand in the case of “Terra Incognita.” 

McCoy studied ceramics in college and that training informs her formal aesthetic. She is fascinated by materials and processes, and enjoys working improvisationally. Some pieces are created by slowly building up layers, while others take shape in a single session. The artist allows her materials and how they react to one another to guide and even surprise her. What matters most, however, is the subtle effect her paintings have on the eye and mind.

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