New York Times

Pamela Talese’s small, quietly observed works, painted from life, honor the plein-air tradition that many assume to be dead by turning to industrial subjects and pushing the style slightly toward documentary photography. Fittingly, they record a dying phase of New York history: the piers, buildings, cranes and docking equipment of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, along with tugboats, fireboats and ships in and out of dry dock.

The subjects have all seen better days, but the images are not nostalgic. And despite the paintings’ documentary aspect they clearly could not be photographs; they record places of honest work in part by exemplifying it. They are carried by an unforced accuracy abetted by a subtle color sense and straightforward surfaces that are neither finicky nor juiced up.

The total effect is unexpectedly convincing, all the more so because each painting is accompanied by a brief text explaining its subject. The added information suspends this work somewhere between a belated W.P.A. project and a conservative variation on Conceptual Art’s image-text combination, by now a tradition of its own.