In “Rust Never Sleeps: Corrosion and Renewal in Maritime Industrial New York,” Pamela Talese struck an elegiac tone while deftly avoiding excessive nostalgia. The 20 paintings on view her depicted abandoned industrial sites, ships and tugboats in various states of repair, and such decaying or disappeared landmarks as Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. While age, in the form of a ship’s rusted hull or a decrepit Con Edison building waiting to be demolished, hangs over all these pictures, the strong presence of sky and sea, and of light and air, animates them, making them feel as if they are part of a living world rather than simply appearing as embalmed images.

Much of the power of these paintings comes from Talese’s strong sense of color. A pile of discarded items, including old T-shirts, orange traffic cones, and yellow caution tale, sits in the foreground of Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse after the Fire (2006) creating a discordantly festive atmosphere. The varying shared of rusting metal in such images as The Valcogen Bow (2008) and Orton Blue Crane 1935 (2009) document decay but also exude vitality. A nicely painted sky at sunset lifts  some of the gloom from the abandoned building in Revere Sugar Refinery (2006). Talese is equally good at capturing the tones and textures of water.

Talese’s work may be seen to resonate with that of an artist like Tacita Dean, but it appear to be most deeply rooting in the tradition of Charles Sheeler. Although Talese painting images in physical decline, as opposed to the gleaming world of technology that fascinated Sheeler, the artists are united by a sense of optimism.  The world that Talese depicts may have seen better days, but it steadfastly holds on to its own particular beauty.