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Saturday, June 3, 2006


Dabbert Gallery showing work of local artist Ben Stahl

By: Mark Ormond

A selection of the work of Ben Stahl (1910-1987) can be seen at Dabbert Gallery on Palm Avenue through June 15. It is a small group and worth a visit to appreciate the facility Stahl had with the line, whether he used charcoal or an intensely colored pastel. Stahl and his wife, Ella first moved to Sarasota from Connecticut in 1953, and Stahl became one of the best-known members of Sarasota’s Art Colony. For 30 years, Stahl’s work was featured weekly in The Saturday Evening Post and other national magazines.

“Flamenco Dancer” is a particularly compelling pastel on board. One has to admire his courage to use an acid green on her face together with a soft pink and a sapphire blue to establish a scene with a dancer resting before a man seated in the shadows behind her. Neither can see the face of the other, however, Stahl establishes their relationship with the looks on their faces that only we can see.

In “Standing Woman,” a charcoal on paper from 1980, we appreciate the presence of a woman by the outline of her body, which Stahl suggests with a series of connected lines that move us swiftly from her toe to the fingertips of her extended hand.

The gallery is also showing some accomplished pastels by William Jerdon. The body of “Vanessa” – a work of 31-by-19 inches – seduces us from behind. Jerdon establishes the point where her skin meets the air with the most subtle marks of color that don’t seem so much blended as microscopic flecks floating in the light.

Spend a few moments with photographer Allan Teger’s “Bodyscapes.” This artist has fun with nudes and small-gauge figures. In one, a canoe is sluicing up the spine of a figure. In another, a couple on bikes are traveling down the spine of a body.