Art

Galleries | Cate McQuaid

SoWa gets a Fountain (gallery, that is)

Sarah Alexander’s “Backstage”
Rebecca Skinner
Sarah Alexander’s “Backstage”

In April, the old mill building that Fountain Street Fine Art had called home for six years shut down abruptly when the city of Framingham determined the building was unsafe. The April exhibition had been up for all of two hours. Co-owners Cherie Clinton and Marie Craig quickly found a new space in Boston’s SoWa gallery district. They changed the gallery’s name to Fountain Street and had it up and running in time for May’s First Friday openings.

The first, deceptively frothy show features work by Tatiana Flis and Sarah Alexander, and moody, ethereal sound by Todd Bowser.

Flis’s surreal drawings and sculptures juxtapose miniature buildings on stilts with rippling washes of graphite and casts of hands. The immaculate shack in “Refraction Arises” perches on a blot of liquid graphite, as precarious as a beach house during a nor’easter. The house, precise on spindly legs, stands in for any one of us. It’s the earnest, flimsy structure we present to the world, built over — or amid — the seething unconscious.

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In “(An)Obsidian Return,” vapor forms a roof over a brick cell. Bitty flames erupt at the top, their orange and yellow splitting open the drawing’s quiet gray. The tiny nightmare tenses between containment and explosion.

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Alexander’s drawings and paintings spin with coils and strands. Some works are frenetic and lusciously layered (for “In Flux,” Alexander tosses in shreds of aqua netting amid sepia loops for a dense, swirling, underwater effect). Like Flis’s works, Alexander’s imagine an inner world: thoughts endlessly unspooling.

She’s at her best when all that activity coalesces into something larger. “Backstage” looks like the remains of an opening-night after-party. Boxes add structure; breathy, inky strokes in the background add depth. Threads from spilling coils form a border. Here thoughts don’t merely natter and whirl; they create a space for themselves.

Fountain Street’s next show, featuring Denise Driscoll and Kay Hartung, resurrects the one that was shuttered in April. Onward and upward.

SCARCELY AWAKE: Sarah Alexander/Tatiana Flis

At Fountain Street, 460 Harrison Ave., through June 11. 617-292-4900, www.fsfaboston.com

Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.