This week: Write ups on exhibits at the FWMoA, including Steve Sorman, Alexander Solomon, and Tobi Kahn. Late April: I have actual, definitive plans to go to Indianapolis, write ups from the IMA will come after. Questions: Do you listen to art-themed podcasts? Which ones? If you want that kind of podcast what kind of topics would you be most interested in? Artist interviews? Exhibition reviews? Educational/history themes? Factoids?
You probably have an idea what I’m thinking of doing based on those questions. I’d like to know what ArtsUndone audiences are interested in. Reply to this post, or tweet to me (@artsundone) or post on our facebook page, to let me know what you’re interested in. If you prefer, use the contact form below.
Sculpture in the 20th Century
January 17-March 1, 2015
In addition to the Hunt Slonem exhibition I reviewed separately, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has a couple other shows worthy of a look. The Sculpture in the 20th Century exhibition is comprised of selections from the museum’s excellent permanent collection. On display are some pieces familiar to frequent visitors, like John Newman’s Sidesplitter, 1986, and some pieces that rarely get seen.
There are a wide variety of styles, media and forms in the show. Many of the works are abstract with a few notable figurative works. The gallery is a little cramped, and I personally would have preferred to see the works spread out a little more in the museum. Here are a few highlights:
Jamie Guerrero teaches glassblowing classes to at risk youth in Los Angeles. He says of his work that it “has opened my awareness of the world around me, giving me a sense of perspective about the human experience. I am influenced by the everyday things we take for granted, the rituals we create from our routines, and the historical artifacts that inform and influence our perception. I use my work to mirror human experience and give a voice to subject matter that would normally remain mute.”
That attitude informs this work from 2005. My Homies shows detailed craftsmanship and expressive treatment of the subject matter. These figures grabbed my attention as soon as I entered the gallery. Amidst the minimalist, abstract works dominating the space, My Homies provided a welcome figurative respite.
Claire Zeisler, a contemporary fiber artist, was represented with this distinctive piece from 1977. This work features a cascade of hemp rope crowned with red wool. The intricate patterns of bright red frames the top of the piece which spills down, terminating in a tangled heap. The controlled, brightly colored top contrasts visually and thematically with the rough, organic shapes of the rest of the ropes. Truly unique in the exhibition, seeing this work made me want to see an entire show of fiber and/or minimalist works in the FWMoA main gallery. I could imagine this work alongside some Eva Hesse and Sheila Hicks pieces. As it stands in this show, like the Guerrero works, it pops out to the viewer because of the contrast in color and form. So much of the show features shining metal and glass, the natural textures of Zeisler’s work makes for an immediate focal point.
Speaking of gleaming metal, this work by John Newman is actually one of my favorite pieces owned by the museum. I remember visiting a solo exhibition of Newman’s work in the 1990s which is the first time I saw Sidesplitter, and I fell in love with the piece immediately. Characteristic of the artist’s style, it gracefully combines sharp edges with soft curves. Architectural, yet not overpowering, this work is both inviting and dominating. The interior play of negative space is balanced by the larger, sweeping “tail” of the piece, visually pulling the viewer’s gaze up to the reaching crown. It had been a while since I’d seen this work, and I was reminded right away why I’ve always enjoyed it.
Contemporary Indiana artist, James Uhrig, was represented with his work Flight III #10 from 1984. A beautifully balanced pieced comprised of highly polished stainless steel and wood. This piece is notable for Uhrig’s ability to create a visceral tension between volume and negative space.
This is just a sampling of what can be found in this excellent display. The really fantastic thing about this exhibition is that is demonstrates the great variety and depth of the museum’s permanent holdings. Make sure you don’t miss this show.
Also at the museum was Crossing Lines: Contemporary Art from Coast to Coast: Austin, TX, which closed in January.
Located in the front hall of the museum, the display had a wide variety of styles and subjects in prints, sculptures and paintings. The artists represented are well worth looking into.
Jason Eatherly was represented with a few works including Everything with Me, and Everything Past Me, both from 2014. These acrylic paintings have a great narrative. I’ll let the images speak for themselves instead of trying to describe the stories. The illustrative style is fun to examine, and as one does so, one finds great, unexpected details.
These were not my favorite works in this exhibition, but definitely worth spending some time with.
What was my favorite piece? Well, I really loved the works by Aleck Nimer on display. Hammers. Many, tiny, hammers. Why did I love them so much? Perhaps it was just the unexpected nature of finding them there. Perhaps it was the meticulous craftsmanship of the work.
Perhaps it was just the idea of taking the ultimate symbol of mundane, mass produced functionalism — the hammer– replicating, crafting, expanding, and shrinking it beyond practicality so one can appreciate the subtle, simple beauty in the thing itself.
He is, according to his website, exploring “a balance between academic fine art and the continuous pursuit of skilled craftsmanship.” This concept is nicely expressed in the Hammers Series. Absurd, but not directly comical, and hey, who doesn’t love tiny hammers? Am I right?
Of the 2D works in the show my favorite were a set of drawings by Jamie Spinello, Fever, Rash, and Pandemic (pictured above) all from 2014, were beautiful and poignant pieces demonstrating great mastery of the medium and a touching humanity. Focusing on hands without the rest of the subject visible, the gestures remind me of Egon Schiele’s pieces. These were small works in the hallway, which could be easily missed. They are subtle and delicate, and in my opinion, some of the best works in this exhibition. Many of Spinello’s similar drawings can be found at the artist’s website (linked above).
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art also has a special exhibition up related to the Dance Theater of Harlem, look forward to my comments on that exhibition in the future.
Hello, everyone, and thank you for reading my blog! At this point I wanted to have some reviews up for shows in Indianapolis, but weather has kept me from travelling much. To let you know what I do have planned, here’s a tentative update.
Expect some more from the Fort Wayne Museum of Art soon. I also will be checking out some other local shows and hopefully I’ll be able to get to Indy later in the month.
I’m going to be talking to some people about producing a series of programs on art appreciation and history, as well as a series focused on regional, contemporary artists and their work. Along those lines I’d like to start doing interviews and studio visits this Spring. Given my background I will focus on visual arts, but I’d also like to include musicians and writers as well. In addition to those things, I hope to work on another Aesthetic Distance article soon (it’s been a long time since I’ve posted one of those).
If there is a topic, artist, or exhibition you would like me to write about or if you have any comments about the site, please contact me!
It’s a lot to coordinate but I’m excited by the possibilities! Thank you, everyone, for your support!
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art hosted a small exhibition of paintings by contemporary, Neo-Expressionist, American painter, Hunt Slonem. (On display until March 8, 2015.)
Slonem is known for his works exploring nature, and what he describes as “exotica,” including images of butterflies and rabbits, for which he is probably best known. He began his Rabbit Series in 1981 and the FWMoA has several of his recent works on display.
I visited the show in late January. The first thing that impressed me were the bright, shining colors, loose, gestural forms and the effects that the repetitious patterns and textures had on the exhibition space. The large area allowed me to get some distance from the towering wall of rabbits and highly textured insect paintings. From across the room, the lines, dots and shapes constructed whimsically fashioned bunnies and bugs, but as I drew closer, the thick impasto and rough textures became more obvious, dissolving the butterflies into loose but regular blobs of thick paint, themselves beautiful to look at.
This is the type of painting I really enjoy, at least in technique, if not subject matter. The control and composition are precise, the craftsmanship is clear, and yet the expressiveness is there in the hand of the artist, repetitiously daubing thick line after line across the canvases.
This untitled piece from last year features a gold background with grey and black used for the rabbits. The brushstrokes are loose but confident (not surprising for an artist who has been painting rabbits since the 1980s). In the spotlights of the gallery the gold shimmers in a luxurious way that I found mesmerizing.
This grouping of small rabbit paintings all had a whimsical, calligraphic style to the form. The bunnies peer at the viewer, some pensive, others bold, each one with its own character. After sitting in the middle of the gallery staring back at them for a while I became a bit numb to the cotton-tailed gazes. My eyes no longer registered the creatures, instead they dissolved into lines, curves, and blocks of colors. It’s a wonderful thing that happens, sometimes, when a viewer just allows him or herself to take time in a gallery. Just sit and look, and eventually you’ll see so much more than the surfaces.
Not all the pieces in this show were rabbits, there were butterflies, too. Many of them, including this work from 2014, and Viceroy, from the same year, and an untitled piece from 2011, all on display, had wonderful attention to detail and patterns both meticulous and expressive. The impasto insects were some of my favorites.
This is another fantastic show of contemporary American art hosted by the FWMoA. Given the subject matter and compositions, I would recommend it highly to anyone interested in the medium or even just interested in getting a glimpse of something to remind us of springtime. I would also encourage children to visit this exhibit, I think the style and forms could be a great inspiration to the next generation of expressionists. If you miss Slonem in Fort Wayne, his work is being exhibited extensively around the world. Worth seeing in person.
I came across a couple recent articles about artists leaving New York City because of crazy high real estate prices. At some point (perhaps it’s already here) the benefits of being in the city will be completely undermined by the cost of living there.
Where will they go? The bigthink article (link below) points out that many artists are choosing Detroit, where real estate prices are not a problem. I’m wondering what the longer-term ramification of this will be on the Midwest. I, personally, think this could be an incredible opportunity for many cities, like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Nashville… not that they don’t already have fantastic museums, galleries and local support for the arts, but maybe now critics, collectors and art writers might take “the great fly over” more seriously as centers of the arts. Artists leaving the Big Apple for less urban areas means, perhaps, more attention (and more money) coming into these smaller markets. I don’t think the art scene in New York is dying, but I think it’s very realistic to think that there are going to be some major shifts in the art world.
While I’m certainly not happy about the described gentrification of New York City, the potential to expand the contemporary art market to the Midwest is an exciting prospect.
The Wunderkammer Company hosted its two year anniversary celebration on January 10, 2015 in its 7,000 square foot art center and gallery in Fort Wayne. This is an exciting and dynamic space helping bring life back into the Oakdale Historic District on the Southwest Side of the city. If you were in the open space of the main gallery you might have noticed a blur whizzing through the space stopping to connect and chat with various artists and community members, that blur was the the ever-energetic and passionate founder and executive director, Dan Swartz.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Dan for a few moments during the event. The Wunderkammer mission, “To revitalize communities through contemporary art,” is one that Dan believes in completely, and his passion for the art community is contagious. The show up for the celebration was eclectic and well attended, with a fantastic live show by a local aerialist and treats from Zinnia’s, a local bakery. Here are some highlights:
Austin Cartwright was represented with a piece indicative of his recognizable style. A combination of soft, cool modulating colors with Cubist-inspired division of space. As usual for Cartwright, the piece is both soothing but maintains a sharp, edgy feel.
I admit, I missed this piece my first time around the gallery. On a second pass around I noticed the tag claiming it was painted with beef blood. The loose, confident hand crafting the flowers is reminiscent of late 19th century abstract styles. I think the piece could have been more eye catching with more attention to detail and a greater tonal variation. I would love to talk to Butcher Bob and hear the story behind this piece.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Lady Eve, a silk aerialist local to Fort Wayne. I got a chance to speak with her in-between sets. She’s a very talented aerialist just getting started in the region, look for her performances at Wunderkammer in the future.
Gregg Coffee’s was my favorite print in the show. Bright, dynamic with intriguing details, I really love the depth and layering and how the composition moves.
This fabric work, by Joel Fremoion, is my favorite fabric pieces I’ve seen in a long time. Gorgeous, fluid, and vibrant. I kept coming back to it throughout the night.
Finally, here’s artist Alexandra Hall with a fun piece that displays her bright, optimistic style. I’m looking forward to learning more about her process and inspirations.
Fueled by the passion of the staff, Wunderkammer is poised to be a leader in the contemporary art community in the region. If you are in the area, make it a point to visit this art center.
Well, a while ago I posted that I was back. Then an unexpected tragedy struck my family. That’s why there hasn’t been an update since. I will have an update soon. I’ve been thinking about ugly, violent and depressing art….I won’t analyze why. I think there will need to be an entry on that soon. Thanks.