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New York Times

Julie Saul Gallery
 

SUMMER PICTURES
 
 — By ROBERTA SMITH

 

When it comes to painting, the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi knows what he likes and then some. “Summer Pictures,” the small, succinct exhibition of work by his friends and one relation that he has organized at the Saul gallery, makes everything, familiar or not, look fresh and relevant. Jane Freilicher’s quiet, elegantly colored still lifes — a vase of hydrangea and a scattering of objects on a table overlooking a field — are at their Morandi-like best in the company of Lisa Sanditz’s semi-abstract pastoral “Z Park South” and Maureen Gallace’s two small, unfussy landscapes. Ms. Gallace’s works include a vista of houses and, less usual for this artist, a buttery shoreline view of the setting sun.

The three cupcakes looming large in a small, new and also buttery painting by Wayne Thiebaud have the presence of beach cabanas and introduce a theme, food, that Maira Kalman’s delightful gouaches expand upon with breakfast scenes. We see the meal laid out or under way in India, Kentucky and Jerusalem and being eaten at an undisclosed location by a woman named Sabine, who wears a turban and caftan as if taking a break from modeling for Matisse. Also depicted is a lavish spread, with white cloth and china, for the mysterious “Herring and Philosophy Club.” Apparently only one of the four members who were expected showed up (or arrived early), and that person ate and ran.

Next to Ms. Kalman’s images two paintings by Adrianne Lobel, a well-known set and production designer for theater, opera and dance, return to nature with prismatic, muscularly rendered images of trees that bring to mind the work of Benjamin Butler. An ethereal collage by Donna Chung, sprinkled with bits of color, abstract forms and cut-out images, implies a realm that is more astral than earthbound. And pure abstraction is well represented by the repeating stacks of brilliantly colored circles in a large untitled canvas from around 1970 by Julia Sherman, a distant cousin of Mr. Mizrahi’s, whose work has inspired some of his fabric designs. That’s interesting information, but this show transcends personal connections.