Sarah Walker‘s abstracts stand out for their willingness to go in esoteric directions that most blue-chip artists dare not.

Perhaps that is why the artist’s two workstitled Voyager and Outpost (see below)felt slightly mismatched within the status-quo-ish new group show “The Transportation Business” (at the Jane Lombard Gallery).

Walker’s examples also inadvertently make the case once more for Pierogi Gallery in Williamsburg being a leader in the new wave of alternative art, where conspiracy, radicalism, and spiritualism are the antidote to both conservatism and centrist liberalism. (Walker shows at Pierogi, as does Ati Maier, who also has two excellent works in “Transportation.”)

The title of the show is based on a comment by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who paired images of transportation with his band’s ability to “move minds.” The show was curated by Art in America scribe Gregory Volk and features many of the artists he’s covered for years now: Tavares Strachan, Fred Tomaselli, Ragna Róbertsdóttir, and the aforementioned Walker and Maier.

Most of the works in the show feel minor, which I suppose is par for the group show course. Strachan’s neon word-art sign reads: “You belong here.” It is a soothing, if predictable, aphorism. Tomaselli’s small-scale bird collage is pretty to look at, but hardly indicative of a true pioneer in the resurgence of psychedelic art. Walker’s two works, on the other hand, feel like the breakout of the program.

In both Voyager and Outpost, the outer edges of Walker’s canvases look like burned-out webs, beyond which are sensual grids of background colors. (The artist stains this layer at a certain angle to get the desired effect.) As we move closer to the center, her destruction gives way to a centrifuge of mathematical shapes and explosions of mystical luminosity. They seem to tell us: in each part of the journey there are thresholds where transformation occurs. In art, as in life, that quest continues. (Brian Chidester)