Joan Moment and Roger Berry, two of Sacramento’s top abstractionists, share the space at JayJay this holiday season. Moment presents a series of acrylic paintings based on constellations of stars and ocean waves. Berry offers a range of bronze and Corten steel sculptures that he calls “nots” because they are not representations of anything. They are only themselves.
Moment has been working for some time with imagery that suggests the far regions of outer space. Rather than representations of starry skies, they are emanations of the essences of them. “Endlessness” is a 6-by-8-foot canvas that envelops the viewer, casting her into the far reaches of space where pinpoints of light are both ephemeral and eternal.
Other works suggest water. “Realm of Jewels” is an image of falling bubbles against an intense cobalt blue ground, with red and yellow passages of poured paint. It’s a luxurious image, as is “Wave II,” a diptych that functions both as sky and water, drifting galaxies and ocean swells.
“Nightwaves” extends the wave motif to a long horizontal scale and adds rings and dots of color, playfully scattered through the waves along the bottom of the canvas. The wave paintings are made with a flexible rubber brush that gives variable lines in a continuum that bespeaks an endless flow of energy.
Among the smaller works “Primordial Matter” suggests the goo of things, the stuff of which matter will be made. “Primordial Matter II” is a cosmic cloud of bubbling gaseous matter. “Alchemical Pour” is a gorgeous painting of clouds of silvery and sulfurous poured pigments against a field of blue.
Moment’s blue is a signature color, made up of cobalt with a dash of ultramarine, similar to the color of Yves Klein’s paintings of female bodies pressed against canvas, works that Moment says have influenced her.
Yellow is also an important color for her in works that reduce her rings and circles to their abstract essences as they play across brushed and poured grounds. “Tiddlywinks I” is a delightful jeu d’esprit. “Jiggling Polarities” gives us a dance of bouncing, colliding, squirmy actors on a sunlit plane.
These works show Moment at the top of her form exploring the essences of natural phenomena. As the title of the show tells us, they are numinous, having a strong spiritual quality suggesting a divine presence.
Of these paintings, Maria Porges writes in a catalog accompanying the show: “While there is a physicality about these paintings as well as a profound connection to life itself, in the end, I believe that they are meta-physical, in the most literal interpretation of the word: going beyond physics to the nature of being and the world itself.”
If Moment takes us into the realms of evanescent essences, Roger Berry brings us down to earth with his looping, incurving metal sculptures that are concrete objects in a classical 20th century modernist mode. One thinks of masters like Constantin Brancusi when looking at these bronze and steel objects that use mass and heft and motion to convey their abstract force.
“Boxer” is a complex intertwining of arcs and ellipses with a honey-gold patina that is a tour de force. “Mahogany” is a larger and more open arrangement of curvaceous circular forces with a rich, wood-colored patina. “Zach” is a knot of heavy metal that is almost claustrophobic in its tight spaces.
Different in feeling are the warm, rusty surfaces of Corten pieces like “Roller” and “Bumper.” As Berry explains it, “Bronze is like a wonderful meal, while Corten is like a hard day.” Bronze is smooth and luxurious, Corten is rough and tough.
In addition to the indoor pieces, the show includes outdoor pieces that have a larger scale, among them his most recent work “Hitch,” a looping marvel that dwarfs the viewer. It is an example of the kind of massive yet elegant outdoor pieces that Berry has made for institutions and businesses all over California and across the United States. It’s a treat to experience it at JayJay.