The New York Times

July 11, 2004
ART REVIEWS; Beautiful, And No Water Required
By HELEN A. HARRISON

'Site Specifics '04' 
Carriage House, Islip Art Museum, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, (631)224-5402. Through July 25.

This year's invitational exhibit features seven artists who have adapted the building's interior for site-specific installations.

Bill Schuck's ''Confines'' refers poignantly to the estate's former use as a home for orphans. His closetlike room is a claustrophobic environment where grass seed grows under artificial conditions. The seed is planted in tiny holes in the walls, where it sprouts into words that express the installation's memorial intent.

Memories also reverberate in Todd Johnson's untitled piece made of uprooted trees displayed on a bed of pebbles, as if they had been washed ashore. Unlike conventional driftwood sculpture, these objects remain as relics of destruction, with only a few teacups added to suggest human intervention.

In adjoining galleries, two artists play with the notion of temperature extremes. Michael Dominick's infernal constructions of recycled radiators pump heat into the space, pushing it to the limit of tolerance. One of them actually melts itself, while the other serves as a shrine that might be interpreted as a critique of religious zeal. At the opposite end of the temperature scale, Itty Neuhaus's ''Fathom'' evokes a frigid landscape in flux. Projecting images of glaciers onto a three-dimensional model of an iceberg, she simulates the constant movement of the ice from land to sea, as the glacier breaks up and the iceberg grows.

''Color Coded,'' Jerry Mischak's labyrinth of colorful plastic piling, emerges from the building's bathroom like a plumber's nightmare come true. At its center, organic forms appear to sprout from the pipes, further threatening the structure's tenuous equilibrium. There is a curious analogy between this static piece and Amy Globus's oddly titled ''Electric Sheep,'' a fascinating video of an octopus squeezing itself through transparent channels.

In an area that has been caged off with wire walls, Michelle Jaffé has installed ''Preying Mantis,'' a hanging sculpture of plastic mesh cut into the shape of a splayed-out undergarment, specifically a teddy. The artist exploits the analogy between the confines of the space and the confining character of the garment, as well as the implicit tease -- look but don't touch -- represented by their see-through materials.