You’d be forgiven to assume that Arts Warehouse’s current exhibition “Movement of Time and Place” comprises a collaboration of two painters, not one—so vastly different is the work on the right side of the gallery from the work on the left. Yet every piece is derived from the careful hand of Delray Beach’s Marilyn Honig, and taken in totality they capture an evolution of kaleidoscopic proportions. There is beauty in both, but the difference between her recent work and her 1980s contributions is not unlike the transition from monochrome to Technicolor in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Indeed, many of the earliest paintings in “Movement of Time and Place” (running through June 25) are set on a farm, albeit one in New Jersey that Honig ran with her husband. They are a wily mix of figuration and abstraction, often within the same painting. In “Cows Grazing,” an impressionistic image of bovines in a pastoral vista, two clearly delineated cows dominate the foreground, while their beastly companions are represented in the background as blobs of black and white. They are not so much cows as the idea of cows, just as Honig’s paintings of houses come across as a child’s representation of houses—rectangular roofs atop square blocks.
“Brick and Shale” presents a veritable Rothko palette of red hues mixing and mingling; “Cows on the Hillside,” with its blanket of earthy orange, distills its environment, reducing it to its poetic essence.
Farmland and houses, houses and farmland: Honig painted what she knew, and as residential developers began to eat into Mother Nature’s terrain, her work increasingly married a sense of rage with whimsy. In “Change,” the houses, scaled down to deliberate absurdity—a cow is larger than many of them combined—clog an otherwise serene piece of farmland. In “Early Development,” the houses add a gauche sense of color to the lovely earthen environment around them, spreading across the plain like a cancer.
And then, just as we’re grooving to Honig’s vision, it changes. Flash-forward a few decades, and we’re in 2020, that dumpster fire of a year, and Honig seemed to paint as if she could will light and loveliness and positivity to a time that desperately needed them. Images of nature at its most untamed and effervescent, the works seem alive, almost 3D as they seem to pop off the canvases.
“Gardens in Paradise” is an ultra-vivid, psychedelic depiction of blooming flora. “New Vision” is an appropriate title for a painting of pastel-hued maximalism, with nary a centimeter of canvas unfilled with sinuous forms. The appropriately titled “Joy” features golden dancers positioned atop wild tendrils, while “Butterflies in Delray” is a fantasist’s ode to nature, idyllic and idealized, the sort that exists in our dreams.
I managed to make it through 2020 in one piece, but I’d rather have been living in Marilyn Honig’s world.
“Movement of Time and Space” runs through June 25 at Arts Warehouse, 313 N.E. Third St., Delray Beach. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, and admission is free. Call 561/330-9614 or visit artswarehouse.org.