Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Jo Legner - Hot House Gallery - Nov. 21, 2001 - 3 stars

Subtle kink meets collage in Legner's loosely lurid, bold, black-outlined Japanimation girl paper mosaics. Beautiful and delicately printed Japanese, Thai and English papers are chopped up (most in 2-inch blocks) and reassembled to give life to her large-scale, convincingly innocent (and one or two not so innocent) and, dare I say, cute, sexy cartoon girls. The fairy straddling a flower, the blue girl spread-eagled on the phone, the bunny-girl investigating carrots, the bare-breasted kitty-woman and the other girls on revue are all perfectly composed for their square format, as if they were individual animation cells. Hardly a parody, these pieces are wildly lively, with a fresh sense of freedom and fun in art, yet are created with care and accomplishment. Legner has a keen artistic vision to be able to piece together seemingly unlike paper colors and textures and then have the end results create the right balance of depth and space for her caricatured beauties. Through Dec. 31, 2001; 686-0895. - Mary Lee Pappas

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Why Collect Art? by Mary Lee Pappas - Nov. 20, 2001

Why collect art?
By Mary Lee Pappas
Nov 20, 2001

Art whiners be warned. Hoosiers are buying original art by living artists. Local gallery owners can vouch for what Greg Lucas, owner of G.C. Lucas Gallery in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood, calls “a very strong art market.” Granted, certain styles of grittier, edgier work are harder to sell, but people are still willing to spend money on art here.

Local art galleries are welcoming, low-pressure places to visit. But Doris V. Hails, curator at Woodburn and Westcott, has reported that guests have asked if there is an admission charge to peruse her gallery space. The general public in Indianapolis has little experience at visiting galleries, so it is not uncommon for gallery owners to receive calls like, “What is the proper attire to wear to an opening?” and, “Are children welcome?”

No admission is charged at galleries. Gallery art openings are not black-tie affairs, so come as you are comfortable, whether that means jeans, suit or whatever. Well-behaved children, accompanied by adults, are absolutely welcome, although Phil Campbell, owner of Hot House Art Gallery, artist and father, advises, “Come with an open mind,” as nudity in art is a time-honored standard.

It is perfectly fine to visit a gallery to browse. Simply walking into a gallery is not a commitment to purchase, so set those checkbook anxieties aside. “There are some people that come in for an art fix,” Hails says.

“It’s a great thing when people come in just to view the art,” David Kadlec, owner of Eye Blink Gallery in Fountain Square, observes. “By picking up on the stories artists are telling they can open up conversations with their family, their kids. They are taking part in the cultural community.”

Nora Campbell, art director at the Domont Studio Gallery near Fletcher Place, agrees. “All galleries want people to feel comfortable. The doors are always open to come in and look and appreciate. We’re just glad people come in,” adding that a gallery’s role should be to educate the public about art.
Art education dialogue is more accessible in a gallery than at a hush-hush museum. Instead of blindly scanning a wall of art in a mausoleum atmosphere, an open conversation can be had at a gallery, and usually with the owner. “I’m here for that!” Hails says.

Greg Lucas has found that people are intimidated by art vocabulary, so he engages and educates his gallery guests about generic art language, like the meaning of painting “loose” versus “tight” and “modern” versus “contemporary.” It is completely acceptable to state that you like a work of art because it’s “neat” or “pretty.” The ability to rattle off historical, period-specific, academic art jargon won’t impress anyone and will not necessarily enhance an emotional response to any artwork. And art is all about emotional response — especially for the virgin buyer.

Art connoisseur, or not, the most important criterion for an art purchase should be to like and be attracted to a piece. Kadlec describes this motivator as “people being drawn to the statement being made by the artist.” It’s OK to want something because it’s beautiful or is reminiscent of a trip to wherever, whenever, too. In truth, the numero uno reason people purchase art is because it reminds the buyer of something and provides an emotional outlet.

Lucas sums it up best: “It’s an emotional thing.” He explains that people are not buying art to match their couch. “The point of a painting is that it should stand out from the sofa.”

A piece of art cannot be judged by its price tag alone. Worthy and desirable art is not indicated by an exorbitant price or an artist’s tombstone. Price usually reflects innumerable can’t-put-your-finger-on factors. For instance, an artist’s work may be priced high because he can command that price in other cities or because she has been producing work for 35 years and shouldn’t sell for less.

A low-priced painting can be of greater artistic quality than a higher priced piece. Price points for high quality, original art run across the board, so everyone can afford something. “I remain convinced that it’s not the dollar amount that sells the work. It’s a position of love,” Kadlec says of art purchases.

Nora Campbell stresses that a customer will “have to love it because they’ll be living with it.”

Buying an original piece of art from a local gallery contributes to local economy and the local arts community. It is a contribution to the financial and professional success of the artist and gallery. Art by working, living artists naturally appreciates over time but can’t be guaranteed — so purchasing for investment is discouraged. The majority of people who purchase art aren’t interested in investment anyway. Kyle Blevins, a photographer who recently showed his work at Eye Blink, says that by purchasing original art “you own your art community. It’s a personal investment.”

Most galleries offer financing. Lucas says, “We work with [buyers] to help them own the painting.” Clients are offered discounts on repeat purchases and are encouraged to acquire art by the same artists. He also sells gift certificates, has painting savings plans and offers discounts on individual pieces if they are available. Some galleries like Kadlec’s have a fixed price policy. “It’s rare that anyone has asked for a discount,” Kadlec says — but don’t be embarrassed to inquire.

“We have to,” Nora Campbell says of financing. “Original art is not a mass market. Most paintings are more than what people can just write a check for.”

Phil Campbell notes that the price range for personal spending on art “is all over the place. The majority spend between $1,200 to $1,500 on average.”

At Woodburn and Westcott, I witnessed an unassuming patron purchase an Indiana landscape by Lynn Thomsen for $2,200. Stanley Woodburn Hails, gallery manager of Woodburn and Westcott, says, “You wouldn’t have a clue what a customer looks like,” observing that customers are as diverse as the artwork itself.

Doris Hails admits that some people are hesitant about purchasing real art for themselves because “It doesn’t seem normal to have real art on their walls.”

Phil Campbell agrees, “They want what’s safe, what their friends have, what blends into the woodwork.” But original art can be more affordable than framing a poster print — and it’s a one-of-a-kind.

A limited edition, prepackaged Thomas Kinkade print-transfer-to- canvas from the mall (one of 3,900 made to simulate a real painting) will cost $640 and up, depending on the size and the edition. An original figurative watercolor work by Phil Campbell, on the other hand, is only $325. A consumer who buys a big-name Kinkade because it feels safe (all the neighbors have one next to their Nancy Noels) isn’t getting a bargain. In 50 years, the piece a local museum (say the Indianapolis Museum of Art or the Indiana State Museum) would consider acquiring in exchange for a tax deduction, or the piece your grandchildren would be happy to inherit, is more likely to be an original that has a sense of history and withstands the test of time. In 20 years, those Kinkades will probably be on sale in Goodwills and Salvation Army shops.
Some artists have inadvertently altered the face of local art history with their unique contributions. The significance of their accomplishments, their styles, techniques and local roots all make a piece of original art valuable.

A buyer who buys based on name alone is an uninformed collector. There are, however, a few notable art personalities who are recommended for your art consumption. Nhat Tran, whose studio is located next to the Midland Antique Mall, is an artist whose lacquer works have been exhibited and acquired by the Smithsonian for their permanent collection. Tran uses an unusual and very toxic ancient lacquer technique to produce work that is influenced by her Asian roots, but inspired by the West. The Hoosier Salon represents the amazing impressionistic oil paintings of Patricia Rhoden Bartles. Bartles’ visions of Southern Indiana landscape have reinvented the familiar Hoosier Group ideals. John Domont is another Indiana landscape artist who recently finished two 15-foot commission pieces for the Riley Children’s Hospital in addition to having two paintings acquired by the Indiana State Museum for their permanent collection. They are but a few artists in Indianapolis who justify Doris Hails’ claim that “We are a wealthy city in terms of the arts.”

Peruse NUVO’s Galleries space in the Calendar for the most recent shows in the city. Scribble down those telephone numbers and call with all your art inquires. Visit and ask more questions. Don’t be discouraged if you are immediately in love with the first artwork you see.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Lynn Thomsen - Woodburn and Westcott - Nov. 14, 2001 - 3 1/2 stars

Thompsen's art is about where we are and where we live. Her pastoral, predominantly green paintings aren't just of the typically expected rural Boone County fields and southern country meadows, but of Eagle Creek and the ultra urban woods of Butler University. The sense of depth and definition in theses scenes is outstanding considering the swiftness at which the strokes look smattered, albeit intentionally, on the paper. Her true color farming fields carry an all too familiar feel that anyone who has driven anywhere in Indiana can appreciate. Thomsen is a skilled artist who fearlessly puts paint down, confidant about space and reality. Through Dec. 31, 2001. 916-6062. - Mary Lee Pappas


Lynn Thomsen, July 30, 1957 - January 3, 2008

Thomsen, Lynn,
January 5, 2008
Indianapolis Star

Lynn Thomsen She passed away at 10:45 a.m., January 3, 2008 at the IU Medical Center, Indianapolis. She was born in Lafayette, IN on July 30, 1957, and lived with her parents in Delphi, until her graduation from Delphi Community High School in 1975. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. She went on to teach at Marion College, IUPUI, St. Richard's School, and for the past 7 years she chaired and taught in the Art department at Park Tudor School. Lynn was a landscape artist, and concentrated on scenes of rural Indiana. She has works hanging at the IU Medical Center, The Anderson Hospital, Women's Wing, and in the permanent collection of Indiana artists at the Indiana State Museum, along with many private collections. Lynn was the court room artist at the 1992 Mike Tyson Rape Trial where her drawings were aired on Channel 6 News and ESPN. She currently has a 22 piece show at the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, Loftus House Gallery, 101 St. Francis Dr., Mount St. Francis, IN. The exhibit will run through March 1, 2008. She is survived by her husband, Clifford Hull, her stepson Clifford Jr., her parents Cliff & Jean Thomsen of Delphi, IN, one brother, Eric (wife Carole) of Delphi, one sister, Teresa Holeman (husband John), of Charleston, S.C.; 4 nieces; Amber Cleavenger (husband Kyle) of Colburn, IN, Cassandra Rowley (husband J.T.) and Erienne Thomsen of Terre Haute, IN., Justine Holeman, of Charleston, S.C., as well as 3 great nephews and innumerable wonderful friends and colleagues. A celebration of her life will be held on Monday January 7, 2008 at 4:00 pm at Flanner & Buchanan Funeral Center-Broad Ripple with a gathering starting at 12:00 pm to service time. Persons wishing to express their condolences may do so by recycling. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Coburn Place Safe Haven 604 E. 38th Street Indianapolis, IN 46205.


In Memoriam: Lynn Thomsen
by Barb Shoup Jan 16, 2008

When Lynn Thomsen and I traveled through France together in 1994, she carried a packet of blank cards wherever we went and made sketches on them, which she sprayed with fixative and sent home as postcards to family and friends. I was fascinated by what caught her eye. The pattern of stones beneath the running water of a river, the peeled paint of a shutter were as interesting to her, as worthy of her attention as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. She made a sketch of me to send to my husband — not at Monet’s Giverny, but in the corner of a straggly garden down the road amidst hollyhocks whose petals were crumbling to dust.

“You were made to set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment,” the writer Annie Dillard said. Lynn was astonished by everything, and spent her whole life spinning her astonishment into marvelous forms, imprinting herself on the world around her. Art and life were the same thing to her.

There she is in the whimsical living space she created, a loft in an old building on 30th Street, with hornets’ nests, still on their branches, hanging from the high ceiling and birds’ nests, rocks, shells, geodes — bits of the earth she collected, wandering. There’s a fabricated steel swing big enough to hold two people that she hung in the middle of the huge room. A gargantuan blackboard she salvaged from an old school and mounted in her kitchen, chalk tray included. A cat stairway with a nifty bridge to a sleeping perch — because every living being was accommodated in her life.

Lynn’s astonishment at being alive shimmers in her paintings hanging on the walls: luminous plowed fields, trees mirrored in summer-calm lakes — the light in them as real as the light pouring in through the huge loft windows.

You can see the fruits of it in the lives of hundreds of students whom she loved and taught, and who adored her, instinctively understanding that she was not only teaching art, but teaching them how to be. Her countless friends knew it when, again and again, she directed our attention to some small thing that made the world crack open in a way we’d never have imagined and, in doing so, lightened our heavy hearts.

Lynn’s time in the world she loved was far too short. But the light she made wherever she went will live among us always.

Kyle Blevins "The Dead Bird Series" - Eye Blink Gallery - Nov. 14, 2001 - 4 stars

Blevins' large 20-inch-by-24-inch glossy prints taken from a huge Polaroid at Columbia in Chicago are hardly morbid or grotesque, but poignant. One little goldfinch is at rest among brittle, dried roses, the colors of which are dulled and dreamy. They romantically convey a sense of peace. The photos evoke memories of life and loss, giving the show a particularly timely and universal quality. Through Dec. 31, 2001. 636-6363. - Mary Lee Pappas

* The son of a funeral director, Blevins recognized that these discarded lyrical and romantic metaphors for life and soul were sadly and ironically dead and found a deep profundity in the ignored and forgotten, yet still beautiful bird life. He collected some dead birds and encased them in liquid latex like bugs in amber, which were either suspended in sheets of glass or shadow boxed, then photographed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Jennifer Kaye - Harrison Center for the Arts - 3 stars

Wood craft and fine art mesh well in Kaye's fanciful women wall sculptures. Her many matrons prance and strike pirouettes in their polka-dot painted dresses and their crescent moon limbs across the gallery walls. These simple in concept sculptures are executed with refinement. Local interior designers would have a hey-day decorating with her stuff. Through Nov. 13, 2001. - Mary Lee Pappas