New York Times, Art in Review, “Creative Growth”

By Roberta Smith.
July 20, 2007.

The Creative Growth Art Center sprang up in the Oakland, Calif., living room of Elias Katz, a psychologist, and Florence Ludins-Katz, an educator, in 1974. The basic premise was simple: disabled adults could benefit from the chance to make art. Thirty years on, Creative Growth’s success can be measured in many ways. One is surely the amount of artistic talent it has released into the world.

That talent just about jumps off the wall in this show of work by nine artists. It has been selected and installed by Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns, who became familiar with Creative Growth while working as a curator in San Francisco.

The sensibilities on display might be divided between those that emphasize order and concentrated forms and those whose dispersed patterns or lines vibrate in time with the chaos of the universe.

On the side of concentration are Williams Scott’s emphatic, beautifully controlled paint-on-foam-core portraits of Dianna Ross and other black women and men, Gerone Spruill’s pencil portraits of his favorite 1970s disco D.J.’s with their helmetlike hair and Aurie Ramirez’s fancy-dressed dandies and ladies.

To the other extreme are Dwight Mackintosh’s ink drawings and their astounding fusion of Futurism and automatism (the gyrations dovetail perfectly with his figures’ onanistic activities) and Dan Miller’s clouds of febrile semi-legible letters, which seem to depict thought or sound itself.

Down the middle is work in which chaos is visibly concentrated: Judith Scott’s bundles of wound wool, Donald Mitchell’s crowds of toddlerlike figures (baby Pac-Men?) and William Tyler’s tautly patterned double portraits with his twin brother, each drawing a world unto itself. As for Carl Hendrickson’s wood rendition of his collapsible wheelchair, it could grace just about any of Chelsea’s better summer group shows.