Don't be fooled by the show's name there are no Christmas-themed pieces. It's called Blue Christmas only because gallery owner Tom Deatherage hung the show in December. The oil and pastel works depict urban angst and loneliness, Deatherage says. But, he adds, "that doesn't always mean they're sad." Whether he's right depends on how much pleasure a person can get from witnessing anguish. The only silver lining to Pronko's dark clouds is the skill that's evident in her sublime work.
The paintings are best viewed from a good distance away. The perspective allows colors and shapes to fall into place gracefully and allows the viewer to better appreciate Pronko's signature depiction of light reflecting off rain-covered surfaces. With somber titles such as "Why Are We Here" and "Where Are We," her renderings are so true to life that you practically hear car horns honking, smell the city's acrid odor and feel the dampness.
The most arresting of Pronto's 12 pieces is "Main When It Rains." It's set at the intersection of Main and Linwood, looking south on a rainy night. A Wendy's sign, a Merit cigarette billboard and the ABC Liquor store are soft-focus visual clutter, and there's a lonely existentialism in the blurred headlights of cars driving on a moonless, starless night. You look for people on the sidewalks or riding in the cars but see only the cold, urban surfaces neutrally staring back at you.
The paintings portray a city without visible life. In "Outward Bound," humans try to escape by means of the indispensable automobile into a wide-open horizon against a setting sun, to a place perhaps as anonymous as the one they are fleeing; it feels like a futile excursion.
Pronto's world is a heartless place, but, as Deatherage suggests, even subjects this bleak can be beautiful.