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Sally Egbert

Surface to Air: Rekindling Max Blagg's thoughts on Sally Egbert as "The Sky Years" is on exhibit at Tripoli Gallery, Wainscott, NY.

By James Salomon

When I found out that Sally would be doing a show with Trip this summer, I called her up for a warm congratulation. She landed in the right place. We go back to the early days of my career and developed a friendship through almost 20 years. We'd call each other every so often, as old friends do, and reminisce, talk about how fucked up the world is now (as if it was so perfect back then), etc. My son Matias fell asleep in her arms once, she explained to me why there was no better feeling.

Ilka Scobie contributed to Trip's press release, saying that Sally's compositions have no horizons, and I immediately knew what my portrait would feel like. We went for a morning swim, and there it was. As for the copy, I sat down thinking of where to start... remembering a prose from my buddy Max Blagg back when Sally showed with me. My Lord, how can I even contend with the bar he set? So, I just called him up to ask if we could relive his beautiful words, and he was a gentleman in his blessing.

With that, I offer you:

Surface to Air.

Images flash on the eye like echolocation; intimate fragments, ghost reminders of the well-lived life. Memories of a crooked year, the tv’s glow glimpsed through a torn curtain on Town Lane, the time somebody took a hike or a rain check, the miseries and mystery of New Jersey seen from the turnpike at high speed. Short Hills, Maplewood, names without meaning, lines on a map, the lines on your hand.

Falling leaves drift on the downstroke, delicate and formal as Japanese springtime.

Mortality hovers in the paint, in the slivers of a Tiffany catalogue regifted into blossoms tumbling from a weeping cherry. Egbert brings you down by the seashore, to observe the beaten silver beauty of the spring tide, the place where each leaf connects to its branch, reconfiguring the miraculous patterns of winter trees.

Surface to air, canvas pulsing with the visible energy of flesh and light. Fragile yet muscular forms secured to the canvas with a mysterious certainty, a mastery of line that comes from years of barefoot contact with the earth. Songlines loaded with paint hold their weight, poignant and precarious. The ripstop energy of changing seasons flows through her, shamanic conductor, shameless medium, intoxicated spirit, she completes the electric arc, and the charge fills the room.

The glow in the paintings is also the glow of the ocean by night, beach fires like tiny beacons along the strand, sea stained air shimmering with promise, sensual and spiritual, a lotus flower opening inside your head, and all your friends are there, alive in the flesh, and you meet someone beautiful and talk to them under the navy blue sky and the stars pour down to the sea, a miracle that nobody even notices...

- Max Blagg (2007/2022)

The Sky Years at Tripoli Gallery, Wainscott, NY. Through August 1, 2022.

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