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The face of the new metropolis, from Boston to L.A.

21st century cityscapes featured at Sherman Gallery’s ‘Skyline’ exhibition

Karla Wozniak, “Taco Bell,” 2004, oil on canvas.

What constitutes a city today? In the Sherman Gallery’s Skyline exhibition, which runs from September 13 to October 21, interpretations of urban landscapes range from the photorealistic paintings of buildings by CFA teaching associate Sam Lacombe (CFA’88,’90) to Kim Beck’s drawings of the banal architecture so easy to overlook — streetlamps, electrical transformers, and parking lots.

“These artists are posing a question,” says exhibition curator Lynne Cooney. “What characterizes an American city in the 21st century?”

Like many Bostonians, Emil Corsillo (CFA’03) sees his city in a state of transition. Using bright enamel sign paint and spray paint, he addresses the changes in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, where he has a studio. The area is undergoing a rapid transformation, and the redevelopment of this part of the South Boston waterfront is reflected in his images of Big Dig construction, along with a massive project that will result in offices and residences. His renderings of traffic barriers, temporary fences, and work sites have an apocalyptic quality.

Karla Wozniak looks at the landscape of suburban sprawl. “She paints the landscape that she sees in urban and suburban areas across the country: signs of Bank of America, Taco Bell, and Burger King that are reproducing at a rampant rate,” says Cooney, coordinator of special projects at CFA.

The abstract paintings of Rick Allman’s recent series Terra Fatum show the impending results of overdevelopment, overpopulation, and pollution. Architectural grids are interlaced with clouds of gray smoke. “He prophesizes how progress advances beyond our control and threatens to implode our cities,” says Cooney.

Lacombe’s paintings, on the other hand, visualize an ideal city. A recent work, L.A. Vista, an aerial view of Los Angeles, is “a cityscape perfectly embraced in sunlight and shadow,” says Cooney. His 1997 painting 900 E. 1st St. depicts an old converted violin factory in Los Angeles. He lived in the strawberry-red brick building with fellow artists for three years.

New York–based artist Nicholas Lamia (CFA’00) created a site-specific installation for the exhibition that Cooney says “assembles, an eclectic array of driftwood, machine-made wood, paintings, and other materials to create a labyrinthine urban landscape.”

The opening reception for Skyline takes place on Thursday, September 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the gallery, on the second floor of the GSU, 775 Commonwealth Ave., and is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.bu.edu/cfa or call 617-358-0295.