Art Preview: Shawn McNulty and Tara Costello Like It Rough

How is it possible that Shawn McNulty and Tara Costello have never shown together?

The two have been part of the Rosalux collective since seemingly forever—McNulty is actually a founding member—and their artistic auras are so cosmically intertwined that their paintings often feel like brother-and-sister twins separated at birth.

Could it be that there’s something dangerous about gathering them in the same gallery space? Some threat to the space-time continuum? Something….supernatural?




Because with Flashing Red, McNulty’s and Costello’s first-ever shared exhibition, the two Rosalux old-schoolers work like psychics at a séance. They’re raising the ghost of Abstract Expressionism.

Costello is Ad Reinhardt reincarnated as femme fatale, sexing up her black-on-nearly-black mindscapes with cat-scratch abrasions and notes of blood red. The surfaces of her works aren’t slick and smooth; Costello layers Venetian plaster with raw pigment, allowing pools and drips to harden into bumps and scars. The texture provides a nice mental grip-ability. It keeps the meditative works from dissolving into pure emotion.

And speaking of texture, McNulty’s paintings are chunky massacres of acrylic and pumice. Working exclusively with large, commercial-grade palette knives, he smears thick layers of color onto his surfaces, then chops and scrapes at them until he’s got a complexly battered topography. Critic Camille LeFevre once famously dubbed McNulty a Pollock-Rothko “love child,” merging the abstract color field paintings of the one with the action-splatters of the other. But McNulty’s technique feels too violent for love. I’d call him a Pollock-Rothko fistfight.

Flashing Red: New Works by Tara Costello and Shawn McNulty
Opening reception Saturday, April 7, 7–11 p.m.
Rosalux Gallery, 1400 Van Buren St. NE, #195, Mpls.