Galleries | Cate McQuaid

It’s frothy color and caffeinated worlds at Room 83 Spring, in Watertown

Judy Riola’s “Extra Legs”is part of the show titled “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” at Room 83 Spring.
Judy Riola’s “Extra Legs”is part of the show titled “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” at Room 83 Spring.

WATERTOWN — In dreary November, we are color-starved. Here’s an antidote: The offbeat exhibition featuring Timothy Kadish, Carol McMahon, Robert Rindler, and Judy Riola at Room 83 Spring bustles with radiant works that wobble, smear, and fluff.

They’re trippy — the show’s title, “tangerine trees and marmalade skies,” nods to the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” long associated with LSD — but they also unabashedly express tender or freaky sentiments usually kept private.

In the past, Riola has made dense, all-over abstract paintings. Here, she shifts to hallucinatory studies of figure and ground. Her paintings, peppered with scans of patterns and details from previous works, rollick in frothy color and caffeinated worlds.


The cow in “Extra Legs” has dotted legs, patterned hooves, and a long, brown udder. Its face is a hot mush of fuchsia and red. Its stripy skullcap appears again, enlarged, as a swim cap in “Bathing Beauty,” depicting a bleary-eyed face submerged to the cheekbones. The cow and the swimmer are paeans to weirdness and disaffection.

Kadish cuts grids of circles, triangles, and plus signs out of single blocks of wood. He paints them with patterned encaustic, which he fuses to the wood with a blowtorch. Bright and boppy, they could be in a skit on public TV about shapes and symbols — except they blot, lean, and waver as if drunk, their clarity and authority foiled.

If God were a circus clown, McMahon’s small paintings would be devotional objects. She affixes dried strips and rounds of peeled acrylic to wood, sometimes adding daffy hats she snips from stuffed animal pelts. Rindler’s totems of plastic salad spinners, cups, and more are more ironic: Look at what we worship. If they were glass, they’d be jewel-like, but in salvaged plastic they’re tough, even defiant, as the light pours through them.


The modest, feisty works in this show, made from literal and metaphorical scraps, find something essential in materials and feelings we may habitually ignore. Their oddity is incandescent.

TIMOTHY KADISH | CAROL McMAHON | ROBERT RINDLER | JUDY RIOLA: tangerine trees and marmalade skies

At Room 83 Spring, 83 Spring St., Watertown,, through Dec. 22.

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