Thursday, June 28, 2001

Cindy Wingo - White River Gardens - June 28, 2001 - 2 stars

Wingo's large, splashy acrylic paintings look as though they were executed with hesitation in her first one-woman show. There is a certain naivete in the way she puts paint (out of the tube?) to her 48-inches-by-48-inches canvases. Quality-wise, the work is unbalanced, though there is a great sense of color and shape. "Guitar" was particularly striking and crossed from the decorative to the painterly with blocks of flat, unfinished color slapped together. "Grand Piano" achieved maturity in its composition and demonstrated freedom in style. Several paintings featured scapegoat techniques: letting paint dribble heavily for no intended effect and scratching through the layers to draw something in. Overall, these works were pleasing and cheery to look at, but fell short otherwise. A predominantly white untitled piece appeared as if it had been pulled off by painting over an old piece she didn't like. Some labels about influences should have been reserved for an artist's statement. Wingo's nifty signature was consistently in the lower right-hand corner of the paintings with one exception: It fell vertically in the top right corner of one canvas making the piece look like it had been hung wrong. Through July 1, 2001; (317) 630-2001 - Mary Lee Pappas

Amy Falstrom - Woodburn and Westcott - June 28, 2001 - 4 stars

Falstrom's work evokes a meditative peace bemused with fantasy. Earthy, golden yellows trickle in layers over simple, analytical, animated brushstrokes. Cross-hatched, teal blues form a muddied, fertile earth ripe with June blooming flowers in "Silent Meeting." Transparent, filmy paint gradations reveal sketched petals of individual blossoms peering from the somber, sparse ground above which two bricklike feet stand - or float? A clay-toned, still waterscape, "Floating Stones," is suggestive of Monet's nympheas murals, but careful and atmospherically faery-touched. A small-scale diptych, "Little Mountains Sant Angelo," achieves depth and realism with masterful half-inch wide strokes - every brush bristle leaving a tale-telling testament to the artist's intentional yellow, green, blue and purple mountain landscape. Falstrom's warm oil paintings are illuminated with yellow hues, evoking a comfortable serenity and a spiritual tranquility. The soft gallery lighting compliments the calm mood of the work. The "Tangle" series of solitary, abstract, tangled, pseudo-organic masses breathe a life of their own. Falstrom's oil paintings, graphite and charcoal drawings are sublimely delightful. Her etchings are superb. Through July 7, 2001; (317) 916-6062. - Mary Lee Pappas

Thursday, June 21, 2001

William Austin Rent - College Ave. Library - June 12, 2001 - 3 stars

Rent, a Shortridge and Herron School of Art graduate, is a talented portrait painter creating crisp African-American-themed images steeped with religious overtones. His pieces are elegant and conservative much in the same vein as the new library currently displaying his work. Grace and sweetness prevail in these provincial, pretty portraits. Idealized subjects lack individual personality with straightforward, full-face poses. They are proud and expressionless - part folksy, part fundamentally formal with urban austerity. Personalities are suggested with symbols and visual clues. Features are smoothed out and sharply defined with very intentional and calculated brushstrokes. Colors are strictly true to life, though the environments of distant backgrounds are sometimes heavenly, misty and imagined. Despite, or perhaps because of, perfectionist painting tendencies, some of Rent's subjects have an off-sense of proportion. His style and technique are unquestionably his own. Through June 30, 2001; (317) 269-1732. - Mary Lee Pappas

VSA Arts of Indiana Group Show - The Bungalow - June 21, 2001 - 3 stars

Freedom and joy in the self-expression experience is evident in the furious finger marks in the clay art made by VSA program participants. My immediate reaction: VSA participants must be very at ease with their teachers because of the abandon and uninhibited independence demonstrated in their art. They feel it and create it. The Bungalow's eclectic, sleek and whimsical store environment befits the spirited show. The clustered clay masks, bowls and small people figures are, however, arranged too tightly together. An arm-locked, sitting, headless, clay people trio made with happy abandon gets lost alongside the throngs of other imaginative small figures. Of particular beauty was a hazy purple landscape executed on a small swatch (10-inches-by-10-inches) of untreated canvas; a blue structure sits on an impulsively-imagined orange-touched green foreground, flat against a lavender sky. This artist understands color. Another piece we'll call "bust of a white kitty" was very impressive as were the clay life-size, and proportionately correct masks. Nurturing self-expression with technique is freely balanced in this show. Through June 27, 2001; (317) 253-5028. - Mary Lee Pappas

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Marc Jacobson - Indianapolis Museum of Art - June 14, 2001 - 3 stars

Jacobson, a Herron associate professor, creates stock urban landscapes on paper using gesso and pastel. Some ooze jazz, while others catch a nasty funk. Fortunately, a light and fiery jazz number of the steam plant on West Street (I think) will greet you as you exit the elevators onto the third floor of the IMA. Jacobson's work ordinarily looks as though it was produced using a recipe for proportion and depth of field with a dash of color instinctively thrown in. This single piece depicting urban industrial Indianapolis was splashed with soft blues and pinks to create a chalky, furious, foggy, mundane, familiar moment in an appeasing fashion. A nasty, ugly, polluting machine aesthetically radiates with Jacobson's magical, artistic interpretation. Cool tones and smooth flowing impromptu black lines from the turn of his wrists are delicate, but ever-present. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, teh Jacobson must be high on life. Through July 1, 2001; 317-923-1331. - Mary Lee Pappas

Justin Cooper - The Monon Coffee Company - June 14, 2001- 4 stars

Fourteen works from a 22-piece series depicting Mayan gods of thunder and rain, maize and the merchant are the latest creations from Justin Cooper. The square and diamond-textured acrylic paintings are hung together, as if they were one large piece, along the coffee shop wall. Cooper's signature subject - soft and stoic, fluid, nude women - strike kneeling, lounging and standing poses suggesting bas-relief plaques from Chiapas or Copan, while still retaining his very distinctive modern look. Random Mayan numeral symbology surrounds the blue (thunder and rain), red (maize), and grey (merchant) women and compliments Cooper's elemental patterned style, creating a fantasy world with a new cosmology. Layers of paint build up the surfaces in small strokes over rich gold underpainting, illuminating the pieces and giving them a depth that glows and shimmers under the low light of the Monon. Through June 30, 2001; 317-255-0510. - Mary Lee Pappas

"2001 Herron Alumni Show" Herron School of Art - June 14, 2001 - 2 stars

The Herron Alumni Association's second annual alumni show showcased a hodgepodge of alumni art, making one question the juror's sensibilities. Unlike the first alumni show, this second incarnation was juried (to veto macrame?) and featured Herron grads from 1943 to 2000. Miraculously, Jack Monninger Jr.'s "Adrift," a poor man's seascape mightmare of crap glommed onto canvas, managed to find its way into the show. Kelly Spangler Mallaby's "Flight," or as the label read, "Filight," was nothing more than handmade white paper goop delicately dripped with green color and pink iridescent party confetti. In contrast, wispy, wispy painted chunks of flesh and shadow made Teruko Schutte's "Figure S" a beautiful standout and a show-saver. Depth and movement made by sweeping, curving vut lines and cool color tones created soft but strong images in tow wonderful woodcuts by Judy Leiviska. Pat Cotton's traditionally Impressionistic "Witness" was easily the most refined piece in teh show. Five flattened figgures became fields of green and white offset by layers of undercoating. The illusion of depth is decoratively precise. June 6-13; 317-920-2420. - Mary Lee Pappas