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At VERY gallery, ‘Transfixed’ earns its title

Exhibition highlights works of three artists, each mesmerizing

Charles Suggs, "Body Stare 2"Charles Suggs

When you run a salon-type gallery out of your studio, you can do anything you please. VERY’s proprietor, painter John Guthrie, makes audacious connections in a mesmerizing three-person exhibition, “Transfixed.”

Charles Suggs pins viewers with the fixed stare of a Black man in the monotype series “Body Stare.” The man, depicted bare from the waist up, gazes at us through sorrowful, haunted eyes filled with a vulnerability that, more than anger, held this white viewer accountable. Suggs works over each print with agitated marks that read like scars. “Body Stare” is a somber, understated counterpoint to Confederate monuments. It represents the man white supremacy has erased: humane, strong, battered. Suggs’s prints should be plastered at monument sites in the wake of their removal.


Tammi J. Meehan’s paintings hang on either side of Suggs’s prints. Thematically, they have nothing in common: Suggs depicts a figure; Meehan’s abstractions spring from her mind’s eye. But like Suggs, Meehan is a nuanced and energetic mark maker, and her ethereal paintings make a canny complement to his loving, blunt focus on the body.

A humming whirl streaks down the center of Meehan’s “Meditation Thistle”: a knot of violet and gold twisting beneath a rush of blue, haloed by splattered rays of olive green. Intense. But all around it, Meehan fills the canvas with opaline light that breathes and burbles, as if the tense commotion in the center is a rupture opening to enlightenment.

Tammi J. Meehan, "Meditation Thistle"Will Howcroft

John Axon’s digital collages mesmerize in the hypnotic sense. They’re 21st-century sacred geometry. Axon crafts a pattern on his computer, then projects it on a human model or an interior. He photographs that and takes it back to the computer for more alteration, building something kaleidoscopic with traces of the familiar.

John Axon, untitledJohn Axon

Most of his fractal designs fill the picture plane, but one untitled work is set in a bedroom. Axon doubles the bed with a mirror effect. A projection drops like a luminous veil from the ceiling, rippling over the pillows. It’s more than a vivid dream in this darkened room — it’s a visitation.


The show artfully pulls viewers in, first with a stare, then an awakening, and finally an apparition. The leaps from one to the next are acrobatic, but Guthrie, a daring curator, sticks the landing.


At VERY, 59 Wareham St., through Jan. 15. Open Saturdays 1-5 p.m. and by appointment. www.galleryvery.com/current-exhibition

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