Pat Steir, The Austria Group, No 2 (Photo: risd Museum)

Drawing Out of Line features 40 years of work by Pat Steir and is currently on view at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. The range of expression captured in the show speaks to Steir’s fierce exploration through her force of nature mind and eye—the ambitious and larger than life renderings of Renaissance-inspired eyes, noses and lips that fill a cavernous entry space floor to ceiling, works on paper that blend text and image, and gravitational “waterfall” paintings/drawings that are the embodiment of fluid while also preserving an essential muscularity. In all of these permutations, the hand and an expressive necessity are very apparent (to harken back to Roberta Smith’s memorable line*).

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Shahzia Sikander

Also on exhibit: The Primacy of Paper featuring works from the collection. Most of the pieces in this small show are intimate and enticing. Particular standouts for me were works by Shahzia Sikander, John Morris, Kathy Prendergast, Edda Renouf and Howardena Pindell.

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George Bellows

Not to be missed in the permanent collection: The most gorgeous George Bellows I’ve ever seen. The tonality of this painting—a view of the Hudson River from where the Westside Highway is now located—is a pitch-perfect homage to the gray light of a rainy day. This is unlike any of the Ashcan-style paintings by Bellows more commonly seen.

*Roberta Smith in her critique of recent museum shows in New York Times: “What’s missing is art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand.”

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