What is the Opposite of Angry Art?

I was attending a Critical Theory discussion group moderated by art critic Charles Marshall Schultz when we got on the subject of angry art.  Or more specifically, the opposite of angry art.

Tricia ClineThe Search for Mouse, 2012
Tricia Cline
The Search for Mouse, 2012

Is there hopeful art?  Grateful art?  Has any iconography taken over this position since Madonna and Child, in all its variations, fell out of favor after the Renaissance?  Is there hopeful or grateful art that is not religiously based?

Tricia Cline and Toc Fetch
Installation View
Ricco/Maresca Gallery

Angry art is easy to make and recognize.  So is serene or peaceful art.  Even joyous art.  But hopeful and grateful imply more complexity.  A history of pain that has been eased, perhaps.  A life that has been improved.  A change of attitude toward the future.

Toc FetchThe Exile Returns When Needed
Toc Fetch
The Exile Returns When Needed, 2012

I have maintained for years that I could not picture grateful art, and then I walked into Ricco/Maresca Gallery (529 W 20th) on Saturday and found it surrounding me. The show is called Mythology, in which sculptor Tricia Cline and painter Toc Fetch have created a world of pilgrimage and self-realization that leads to self-awareness.  The viewer taking the pilgrimage may not feel gratitude himself, but surely he sees it in the sculpted and painted protagonists of the artwork.

Tricia ClineUrsula and Her Kid
Tricia Cline
Ursula and Her Kid, 2011

The small porcelain sculptures by Tricia Cline are beautifully realized, but odd enough that they never invoke the kitsch that your grandmother collected.  Almost subversively, the shadows cast by the sculptures give them the grandeur of life size.  And Toc Fetch’s paintings, especially The Exile Returns When Needed, deal with light masterfully.  That otherworldly glow helps create the feeling of hope, at the same time that it points to the possibility of hope within all of us.

My special thanks to the Gallery, which is warm and welcoming to visitors and has surprised me twice now (last month: Henry Darger!) with quiet, meaningful, emotionally rewarding exhibitions.  This one runs through March 16th.