Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Art Exhibition and Sale - Bodner Studio Building - Dec. 18, 2002 - 3 stars

Dec. 13-14 You honestly don't feel like you are in Indianapolis when you step into the solid and quiet Bodner Studio Building, a former pharmaceutical company at 1200 South Madison - now turned artists' studio facility. The raw industrial interior lent itself beautifully to the first group show of Bodner artist inhabitants. They are not to be judged by the first, forgettable and over-hyped art-party "Oranje" that the Bodner artists themselves had nothing to do with. The unfinished feel of the divided space and the lights clipped to pipes created a lighting concept and presentation that was warm, intimate and conducive to taking in the art. There is no other space like this in town. New work by new, as-of-yet mostly unknown artists is what you will discover at the Bodner, the newest and largest art community to pop up here. Its five stories are filled with studios inhabited by filmmakers, musicians, photographers and artists. Art anchors in the show included Barbara Zech and Munce director Amy Kindred. There was strength, new breath and new looks in the ceramic works of Jay Dougan, Casey Roberts' large inixed media works and just about everything else. Overall, a quality show from artists we have yet to familiarize ourselves with. There is a new trend in the young Indianapolis art scene that's less about ego and competition and more about making art for its own sake in the company of fellow artists on a journey. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Adam’s Children: The Art of Adam Emory Albright - Indiana State Museum, Wilbur E. and Florence Jeup Ford Gallery – Dec. 4, 2002 – 3 stars

A successful Chicago artist at the turn of the 20th century, Albright painted country children in rural settings that were quickly changing with the onslaught of industrialization. Dubbed the "James Whitcomb Riley of the Brush," some of Albright's idyllic plein air scenes were captured in Brown County. The Southwest, Wales, New England and Californian coasts provided other settings. Nearly all of the works share a sun-touched golden aura that permeates leafy green grasses and blue skies, as in "Children in a Field" from 1936. The name typifies the look. The paintings are all timelessly pretty and sweet, making them cross-generational ringers for high public appeal. Though not a profound exhibit, there is nothing wrong with a little sugary sweetness. The country children portrayed immediately reminded me of the snooty depictions of hillbilly folk from that same era made by the second, and effected, Mrs. TC. Steele, Selma, in the book The House of the Singing Winds. But with Albright, a long-gone, nearly mythical, isolated country way of life that existed here is romantically captured by a very American painter. Through Jan. 8, 2003; 317-232-1637. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Fred E. Cooney – Continental Towers – Aug. 28, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars

Beautifully composed and soft-colored plein aire paintings accomplished on Fred Cooney's travels over the last year to such places as Savannah, Ga., and Camden, Maine, make up a beautiful body of sound work. Light determines his warm and vibrant colors, which are set off by the powdery smooth, seamless gold frames holding his work. They are a perfect match for his broad color scheme, which is doubly bolstered by the flat and dense pumpkin-colored walls of the first floor, downtown Meridian Street, exhibit space. Everything, even the piano player at the opening reception, enhanced the art. Color and structural elements (boats, the Atlantic, buildings and dare I mention the Wal-Mart sign?) harmoniously meld. Scenes are segmented into tight, succinct compositions that convey an expert craft. Strokes of color, coherently applied, contrast just enough to create an easy sense of spacial continuity. If all this is too complicated for you, trust me, they are very pretty and would look great in your dinng room. Cooney, known for the Mass. Ave. anchor Agio, studied at Herron and was a medical illustrator with the United States Navy. –Mary Lee Pappas

Suzanne Young – Holliday Park – Aug. 28, 2002 – 2 stars


Suzanne Young creates watercolor nature paintings void of vivid color. Capturing an animal's character (a main subject) and meticulous naturalist detail aren't there either. This is not the stuff of Audubon, but it appropriately suits the nature center setting. Some of the wide scenes of generic forests, many silhouetting leafless trees, are more inspired than others. Depth is created by blurring backgrounds and adding crisp foreground details. This technique interrupts the illusion of space in some pieces. "Deer at Sunset” features two deer in the immediate foreground (multiple attempts to accomplish them is very noticeable) that are stiff and uneasy. "Angry Sky" has an unconvincing orange-yellow sky ominously popping into a literally black scene. Color is flat and doesn't define shape in this nearly surreal atmosphere. "The Secret of the Mist" is the best of the bunch, accomplished with a less limited palette and ease not seen in all the works. The few etchings displayed were notably beautiful. Through Sept. 29, 2002; 317-327-7180. –Mary Lee Pappas

Creative Renewal Fellows - Dean Johnson – Aug. 28, 2002 – 3 stars.


The Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowship that gives artists money to renew themselves, rediscover their inspirations and create art is about the best wish an artist could ask for. Knock on wood and pinch somebody. It doesn't seem fair to gauge this body of work by 14 Fellows against other work being created in the community because of the personal growth nature of this grant, but so it goes. The art displayed was not out of the ordinary for these familiar and good artists. Dan Francis, known for his photographs of churches, exhibits his series of Carnegie Library images taken around the state. Killing two birds with one stone, his selenium-toned silver prints preserved a dreamy, visible record of Indiana history and, better still, renewed his creative spirit. Locally accomplished artists Andrea Eberbach, Stephanie Robertson and Karen Chevalier-Smith, who all consistently create quality art, exhibited their tried and true new works. All of the Fellows in this show are artists who contribute to our visual culture and are just recipients. Through Aug. 29, 2002; 317-634-8020, www.deanjohnson.com. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Fine Arts Competition – Indiana State Fairgrounds – Aug. 21, 2002 – 3 stars

Closed Aug. 18. Despite the complaints some participating artists voiced about the fine arts juried exhibition (misspelled names on labels for starters), I found the overall quality in the calligraphy, paintings, prints and drawing and pastels classes to be high. The style of work represented in the paintings class (most prominently displayed), however, was extremely limited and not indicative at all of the fine art being created by Indiana artists. The jurors definitely favored traditionally-handled, controlled-looking, truer-to-life work – most of which was quite beautiful, like an appropriate painting of chickens by Gene Jones, which looked pretty impressionistic next to its stiff counterparts. Carol Fisher's multiple blue ribbon win woodcut in the prints class was well-deserved indeed. The winning judgement in some other categories, however, could have been disputed. –Mary Lee Pappas

Art in the Garden – 3001 N. New Jersey Studios – Aug. 21, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars

Aug. 18. Art in the Garden was a family-friendly art event perfectly suited for a late summer Sunday evening. An arts oasis nestled on 30th Street, the studio artists displayed work with aesthetic, cultural and political conscience at this "open house." That's a pretty good recipe. Food vendors, artists' booths, drummers, poetry, jazz covers by Protocol and a comfortable setting (the sanctuary-like yard and garden of 3001) made this event feel like a hip family picnic. This arts gathering is a real hidden treasure in our Indianapolis art world. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Painting in my sleep, formerly homeless man makes his mark as an artist - Harry Blomme - July 3, 2002


* Pictured - Greg Brown and Harry Blomme outside of Utrillo's Art Gallery. "He's become quite a good cook. He can make spaghetti taste good," Blomme said of Brown.

Harry Blomme farmed his Southern Indiana land for nearly 40 years before finding himself homeless in Indianapolis five years ago. He has a little apartment now, just big enough for his art supplies and a few modest furnishings that his new career as an artist has helped provide for him.

Cupid lured Blomme to rural Indiana from his native Toronto when he was a young man. A frenzy of love letter exchanges with a woman he met through a pen pal ad in the back of a farm journal engaged him enough to buy a bus ticket and meet her in person. "She was meant to be my wife," he says. She was African-American, from a family of traveling Southern Indiana Pentecostal preachers. He was second generation Flemish-Canadian and Catholic.

They had a love- and faith-based marriage, followed the preaching circuit as far north as Detroit and, meanwhile, farmed their land. "You gotta' grease and oil all your tractors, engines, make sure you got enough gas and carry gas with you ... make sure you've got enough seed with you. And plowing 40 acres is a chore," Blomme says of his former Evansville farm.

Tragedy overtook Blomme when one of his two sons was killed in a convenience store robbery. Then Blomme's wife died. Not long after that, he lost control of his farm and was left destitute.

Deeply spiritual and innately artistic, Blomme found comfort through painting and drawing. "I always knew I could paint, even when I was a little kid," he says over a boombox playing Madame Butterfly in his small, square, immaculately white and tidy one-bedroom home. Because sketch paper was not an available option while Blomme was living on the streets, his pieces were customarily rendered on dumpster finds like the backs of TVs. Luckily for him, people liked and wanted to buy this work that brought him so much personal salvation.


Delicately-labored strokes

Utrillo's Art Gallery, owned by Greg Brown, is where Blomme's landscape, still life and figurative works are currently housed. "He's always advising me and he's always offering me coffee, tea or whatever," Blomme says of Brown.

Blomme's creativity is encouraged by Brown, who occasionally outfits him with painting materials and recovered frames.
Though some are quick to classify Blomme's work as naive, he was formally trained in visual art at Danforth Technical School in Toronto. They "taught all sorts of arts - anything you wanted," Blomme recalls, adding that anatomy was his favorite class. He recalls the naked female models. "Us youngsters, just growing up, we loved that stuff." And as a result, Blomme has a wonderful sense of the human form without much of the proportional awkwardness that can plague even the most seasoned artists.

His knowledge of art and technique is hardly unsophisticated. "I think I"m a little haphazard the way I paint," he says of his delicately-labored strokes. "Sometimes you're just filling a space with color because something else was supposed to have gone there. Ninety percent of any painting is the actual proportion and drawing of it. If you can draw it up good, the painting part is secondary." Ten percent is lighting, Blomme reasons. "The lighting is the hardest thing to conquer. Incidental lighting - it might be just glaring in it; a spot on the street, or in through a window and onto a floor or just a slight glare off the side of a wall." Light is key in many of his dimly colored expressionistic works.

"You get so engrossed in a painting, you talk to yourself about it. I find myself painting in my sleep. When you come to dream about it, you have to pay attention to it. You can get hung up on a painting and lose your perspective in it. You really have to go away from it and put it to the side and then come back and look at it. Color-wise, the proportion of it, figure-wise or whatever, you have to stand back from everything." Blomme says he paints compulsively while sitting on his green floral sheet-covered twin bed, next to a sheet-covered table and sheet-covered overstuffed chair.

"I like to paint anything that suits my style," except religious scenes or images of Christ. "As far as actually trying to paint the likeness of what He looked like, I don't think it"s possible for any artist. It's a big responsibility for an artist. It's supposed to be a surprise anyway."

National Geographic serves as Bloome's image source when he can"t draw from life. "I do a lot of sketchin' everywhere I go. I was drawing people at the bus station. Constantly doing it made me learn how to intone the colors and shading, and handling the pencils and charcoal."

This artistic urge kept Blomme's mind active and content when he was homeless.


Redeeming reality

Blomme met Julia Carson during a homeless church service at Christ Church Cathedral and sketched her. The resulting portrait now resides in her Washington, D.C., office. Some of Blomme's other honors include a mural at Catholic Social Services and a commission for the homeless memorial service held annually at Christ Church Cathedral. He's taught art at Holy Family Transitional Housing in Fountain Square to children and adults. ""Mommy, that's the artist man." They called me "artist man,"" he recalls. "With a child you can practically mold them and inspire - give them inspiration when they're young. They know if you're teaching them right." He's exhibited at IPALCO's Crystal Gallery, the Governor's Mansion and was the inspiration for the April Show, an annual art show comprised of artists who have overcome obstacles that most of us will never have to face - like mental illness and homelessness.

David Hittle of Lutheran Family Services met Blomme while working as a case manager for a homeless transitional housing effort, Homeless Initiative Project. Blomme's case manager, Bill Bickel, current director of Holy Family Shelter Services, introduced the two. Hittle, who describes Blomme as "one of the swellest guys I know," was motivated to open up his downtown turn-of the-century home for the April Show exhibition featuring Blomme"s artwork because he realized there were no other venue opportunities for him. Greg Brown loved Hittle"s idea and introduced him to two other artists from similar backgrounds.

Bickel and Hittle have ventured outside of their social work worlds to effectively improve lives by encouraging visual arts. They have confirmed the redeeming reality of how the arts can actually restore lives like Harry Blomme"s, whose paintings renewed his life and rescued him from an uncertain future. This work has enabled him to start concentrating on other important life matters like finding a good church: "One with good music," he stresses. And establishing himself as the artist he is. "I would love to get my name out there and be known as a good artist." - Mary Lee Pappas

Fine art of afterthought - The Indiana State Museum, NiSource Gallery - July 3, 2002


The new Indiana State Museum provides visitors with a family-friendly joyride through Indiana history with slick multisensory, hands-on, interactive exhibitions. Video components, buttons to push, music to hear and differing floorplans to stroll through immerse the Average Joe into a subconscious and effective learning experience. It is actually a fun and full sensory encounter with Indiana culture. That is, until you enter the NiSource, Inc. Gallery on the third floor.

The high-tech continuity suddenly breaks and fizzles hard, flattening the experience of viewing the 200 years of Indiana-made fine art that this gallery is dedicated to showing. It's actually so startlingly sober in contrast to the rest of the facility that it feels like an underdeveloped afterthought. Museums have evolved into design-heavy entertainment facilities meant to seduce all walks of life through their $7-per-adult doors. Steep admission costs and capital campaigns compensate for the now-absent Daddy Warbucks big-time donors. Museums have full-time staff grant writers who have to prove museum interaction with community, education, children and everything else other than the quality of art to garner funds. Donors would rather contribute $10,000 to have a hallway named after them than anonymously funding fine art acquisitions. And so, art and art experiences have become dictated less by quality than by catering to those who will scrape together dollars to keep the museum afloat. Are museums forgetting how to present fine art?

Doubly dull in the painting gallery were the taupe-colored walls that struck awkward angles. I suppose this was done to break up the monotonously sanitary-toned space and add a dynamic energy to the room. Plunked down in the center of this space are two free-standing exhibition walls, moveable I hope, that face each other and contain mostly Hoosier Group favorites.

I watched about 30 people enter the gallery and bumper car off of each other, not knowing what kind of a traffic pattern to follow. The gallery space didn't flow or represent how the rest of the museum was handled. There was no obvious topic, theme or other explanation to guide visitors through it. Most people seemed seduced into the gallery by John Domont's two large and glowing color landscapes near the entrance. After that, they consistently made their way to the large window in a corner of the room that juts over the canal to check out the view.

Those free-standing walls, by the way, are painted a too-bright shade of French blue. It's so bright it dulls the rich colors of extraordinary paintings like "Pastoral" by Richard B. Gruelle. "The Bridge," an expressionistic landscape by William Forysth, has so much blue in it already that it only made me dizzy, hung as it was against the overpowering blue on the walls. Work was crammed together. Did the museum feel the need to exhibit every single piece in their collection (or so it seemed) in this new, climate-controlled space?

"The Confers," by Thelma Confer, hung only 2 inches away from "Acme Milling Co." by Harry Davis. That's not close, it's cluttered. Placed at an open end of an exhibition wall, the Confer piece was hanging crooked, no doubt the result of being elbowed by a patron cutting the corner too close. Paintings were shoved into the corners of the mostly useless interior wall configurations. The viewer is forced to view large-scale work at close range in this tight space. "Still Life," by John Otis Adams, is too large to be placed in one of these cupped ends. Only when you stand directly in front of it can you begin to see it properly. Forsyth's "Dahlias" has to be viewed within 8 feet (with a slight glare) or less before you back into an exhibition wall. A Willie Faust piece was tucked behind one of the weird room exterior wall angles next to the emergency door exit. You have to turn around to look at it. One woman commented, "Is this art?" and then promptly walked to the window.

And one more thing. Where was the security guard when an early 20-something woman, admiring the T.C. Steele portrait of James Whitcomb Riley, slowly wiped her hand across it? The NiSource Inc. Gallery space is awkward for the art and for visitors. It's as if the museum is saying, "Here's our art!" and that's it. Compared to other exhibitions, there is nothing to effectively engage or guide the Average Joe through the work or tell the stories of styles, influences, technique and successes of the rich fine arts heritage of our state. It does the art, the artists represented and the Indiana State Museum"s ambitious contemporary collection an injustice. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

“Twilight in Arcadia: Tobacco Farming in Indiana” - Indiana Historical Society – April 24, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars

Poignant photographic extractions, pulled from a book of the same name by Butler University's Susan Neville, depict the life of laborers who work Indiana tobaccoland. Tyagan Miller, a Bloomington-based photojournalist, brings to life the drudgery migrant workers from El Salvador and Mexico confront and the social issues that ensue on tobacco farms in New Washington, Ind. It portrays, in part, the new era of immigration. As a quote from the show reads, "I get American boys, I have to bail them out of jail. The Mexican boys come in, they work eight and a half hours, and they whistle when they leave the fields." Those "boys" are 18-45 years old. The crisp black and white images exhibited are powerful storytellers. Shot by shot, the tobacco fields are chronicled and probed through harvest time. Fortunately, the small exhibit's dialogue is presented in both English and Spanish. Taken from March 1998 through January 1999, they capture a timely piece of Indiana's farming heritage. The book, containing 75 photos, is available at the IHS's bookstore for $24.95. Call 317-234-0026 or e-mail orders@indianahistory.org. Www.indianahistory.org. Through June 2, 2002; 317-232-1882. – Mary Lee Pappas

Ron Leonetti, Mavis Flora DeVoe, John Green John – The Photography Gallery at the Hyatt Regency – April 24, 2002 – 3 stars

John and Joan Green offered up photography selections from their Mass. Ave. gallery, The Photography Gallery, to fill the new art space located in the atrium lobby of the Hyatt. Meditative spots in nature are the familiar, true color photo topics aimed at the downtown office types and convention sorts who visit here. Leonetti's greeting card-like woodsy landscape images are tranquil and idealized. They bring to mind Bob Ross and "Deep Thoughts." One photo, "Fall Spectrum," could also be retitled "Full Spectrum," as close-up silver maple leaves in all stages of decay become a natural collage. DeVoe's super close-ups of mist-laden black-eyed susans, moth orchids and bleeding hearts against blurred-out dark backgrounds offer more intimate glimpses of "as is" nature. Two striking canyon scenes by John Green stand above the others and identify the not so obvious compositional quality all pieces in the show possess. Kudos to the high traffic Hyatt for becoming another venue where local fine art can be experienced. Through June 30, 2002; 317-616-6009. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

“Colors of Indiana” John Domont – Domont Studio Gallery – April 17, 2002 – 4 stars

Domont has rethought and redefined the Indiana landscape - given it a facelift. If you perceive our rustic countryside as an unsophisticated art topic, not "cutting-edge" enough, then it is high time to allow Domont to change your mind. Ten new and big panoramic landscapes all representing a sunset, sunrise or noon-days from specific someplaces all around Indiana (and one new Iris painting) are the most recent visual feasts by Domont, who, by all accounts, is the new master of the infamous Indiana landscape painting. He has taken our skies and given them a new innovative brightness, a real life like electric brightness in purple, orange and periwinkle that other artists have had a tendency to turn into typical tube stock shades of blue. Big swooping words and big shoes to fill but all true. "Ripening Sky" breaks down a typical Indiana small town rural scene from the road we all know well into solid masses of color. A group of trees becomes a blue, undulating color mass on top of a yellow and green color block. Fields of fields. "Respite" utilizes a solid band of bright purple to divide the horizon line dramatically. The new 48-inch-by-60-inch paintings have recently garnered Domont a solo exhibition at the Sheldon Swope Museum of Art in Terre Haute – a very, very excellent museum with a very, very strong collection of American work - planned for 2003 sometime. A few pieces from this show can be seen at the White River Gardens entrance rotunda in May. Through April 27, 2002; 317-685-9634. – Mary Lee Pappas

University of Indianapolis Student Show – Dean Johnson Gallery – April 17, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars



The scribbling on the postcard above are my notes for the critique below. That's how I write critiques - on whatever scrap piece of paper I have handy. I just usually need to write a key word to bring an image I viewed to life in my mind.

The gallery renews itself with refreshing new work by 16 students that smoothly knock most of the recycled, Herron-looking work at various Herron senior shows out of new art contention. Exceptions were the sculpture and photography, which were just a tad on the art school angst side. The show’s strengths are most evident in strong basic drawing competency and fluid graphic design as demonstrated in the student show poster. Josh Emrich offers technical and expressive maturity in his large-scale figurative painting while Carrie Claycomb's nearly life-size George Washington and Crucifixion paintings exhibit color and in-your-face composition confidence. A chunky, thick paint background frames a softly sculpted, molded image of Christ. Other paintings by Jake Hughes and Mike Lile serve as notable examples of real talent and visual refinement not always seen in local student shows. It is unfortunate that the opening reception had so few attendees when the work as this excellent. Through May 3, 2002; 317-634-8020, www.deanjohnson.com. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

“Symphony in Color, A Young People’s Art Contest” – Indianapolis Museum of Art – April 10, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars

This 50-year-old annual staple in art competitions explores children's musical experiences through the visual arts. One hundred works created by first through sixth-graders while listening to classical standards, such as Debussy's "La Mer," "Dialogue du vent et de la mer," were selected for exhibit in the Clowes Galleries. The crayon and pastel art pieces created under the influence of Scriabin's Symphony No. 2 Opus 29 are full of delightful pink energy and imaginative floating instruments reflecting the young listeners' unadulterated experiences of the music. Organized by the Junior Group of the Women's committee of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, this is one of two wonderful examples of the value of arts education. Through April 25, 2002; 317-923-1331. – Mary Lee Pappas

“Learning to See: The Art of Art Education” – Herron Gallery - April 10, 2002 – 4 stars

The Herron Gallery scores with this show. Twelve Herron alumni, currently K-12 art educators in Central Indiana, executed their ingenious and intriguing classroom lesson plans inspired by art history, music and art processes. They incorporate all visual art forms in the gallery, creating a very interactive, friendly and informative experience. A Jasper Johns flag lesson plan by Lisa Cooreman, St. Richard's School, meshes individual student created flag pieces (constructed with the likes of Popsicle sticks and other craft closet goodies) into a single large-scale sculptural piece that holds its own in the gallery as well as anything shown here at any time. Mindy Jared's Pike High School students' handmade books are all unbelievably well-crafted; each is also a carefully, thoughtfully executed piece of art. Museum programmers and art teachers take note: A CD-Rom of the featured lesson plans are available for free in the gallery. Through April 13, 2002; 317-920-242). – Mary Lee Pappas

Kwang Cha Brown - CCA Gallery – April 10, 2002 – 4 stars


Three pieces by this Herron painting BFA, Indiana State University MFA and Pont-Aven School of Art attendee are masterful impressionistic paintings rich with the lush, deep tones of caked oil paint one would expect to see on museum walls, particularly when juxtaposed against most CCA sterile standards. Brush strokes look intentionally inspired, as if she is painting history or painting from her past life. One landscape's amber yellow grassy foreground, with its specific speckled strokes, sinks into its green grassy background. Visual appearances of atmosphere and light are brilliantly interpreted. Through May 31, 2002; 317-255-9633. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

“White Light” Joy Jackson – Harrison Center for the Arts – Feb. 27, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars


No relation (or inspiration) to the Herron show of last September by the same name, its examination of white light is less precise and simplified into a metaphor for purity as a catalyst for change. Jackson, who teaches glass blowing at the Indianapolis Art Center, having received her MFA in the subject at Temple University in Philadelphia, presents 20 clear, milky and white glass vases sitting upon suspended wire and perfecting eye-level glass shelving cutting across one of the gallery's corners. Jackson, an installation artist of talent, transforms the gallery space into her unique environment moreso than any other paintings-perfectly-centered-on-the-wall exhibit in this space has even come close to with lighting and installation, tic tac mask sculptures and glassware. A 2,000-pound Morton salt block installation is ghostly unnatural with its electric blue-tinged white light emitting from the crevices of the manufactured salt bricks. Under ownership of Redeemer Presbyterian Church the Harrison Gallery is improved with this exhibit as its proof, Through April 7, 2002; 317-514-6787. – Mary Lee Pappas

“Enchanted Bloom” Andrea Eberbach and Riccardo Consciasecca – Hilbert Conservatory, White River Gardens – Feb. 27, 2002 – 3 stars

Illustrator Eberbach finally frames her beautiful pastels appropriately (big white mats in black frames instead of decorated foam board), giving them a proper presentation they deserve. Her pastel handling is soft, perfectly melting the warm, rich colors with the same weight of hand, creating an even and gentle rendering of what might otherwise be a flat image. Eberbach's illustrations are unmistakably hers both for technique and her keen compositional knack. Consciasecca's super close-up digital image photos are sharp and force you to stop and smell the flowers if you never have before. Snapping super zooms of blossoms isn't anything new by any means - a flower at such a magnifying glass perspective is hard to get wrong as the flower abstracts and speaks for itself, but these are well-presented with the digital image allowing for a crisper, cleaner image. Through March 3, 2002; 317-630-2001. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

“A Hobby Handed Down” Elizabeth Young – College Ave. Library – Feb. 20, 2002 – 2 1/2 stars

Numbered handmade quilts, most folded over so they don't hang over into shelves and walkways, line library walls in their mostly very contemporary colors and fabrics. Some older quilt pieces incorporating floor sacks rescued and refiniggled enforce the sweet utility and family feel of this technically everyday ensemble. All of the quilts carry a family story or significance (each explained by Young in a little photoalbum scrapbook), having all been created for use over art, lending this exhibit its true charm. The fabrics and combinations in which they are teamed into patterns are not always aesthetically pleasing, but this is easily discounted when seen as real women's work. Through Feb. 28, 2002; 317-269-1732. – Mary Lee Pappas

Brian L. Phillips - Barnes & Noble – Feb. 20, 2002 – 2 1/2 stars

Phillip's business cards tout "self taught artist," a truth made most evident by the uncomfortable, unmixed handling of the oil paints. The black-outlined, geometric, generic painted portrait heads with dinner plate eyes softly twist into distinct multidimensional, primary-colored, flat-component puzzle piece fragments. Egon Schiele's elementary school doodlings may have resembled this work. Phillips' artistic strength lies in the fluid and tight compositions that feature the broken down angularity of these idealized, abstracted and gaunt faces. Compositional strength would benefit from mixing, layering and playing a bit more with the paint. Through February, 2002; 317-634-2515. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Cheryl Paswater – The Bungalow – Jan. 30, 2002 – 3 stars

Non-narrative, non-Pop, found image paintings are the stuff of pure aesthetics, here void of Rauschenberg hidden meanings, or influence, and with no revolting against anything going on. They are familiar, mundane, cultural paper images collaged into ambiguous landscaped colorscapes, suitably matted and framed. Bubble wrap, graph paper and some interestingly scribbled poetry get doused with slaps of pure bright mauve and hill green cakey paint to form easily attractive and well-composed pieces with no meaning necessary. Through Feb. 14, 2002; 317-253-5028. – Mary Lee Pappas

“Behold” Sandy Day and Sara Vanderkleed – Hoosier Salon – Jan. 30, 2002 – 2 1/2 stars

Day's strength is with oils. Her stronger, bolder brushstrokes in oil paint befit her sometimes heavy-handed style, creating a maze of yellows, greens and pinks in representational, painterly spots of color, like in the foreground of "Thistle Down," one of many pleasant, tranquil, easy-breezy landscapes. Her true-to-life-color pastel people and landscapes are on the traditionally illustrative side. Vanderkleed's abstracted fields of deep and warm-toned watercolors undulate into dreamy wave landscapes (that turn out to be not that abstract at all after all), made possible by her carefree handling, risk and fate-trusting strokes. One artist's work compliments the other and both are successfully shown together. Through Feb. 15, 2002; 317-253-5340. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Annual Herron School of Art/IUPUI Senior Photography Exhibit - Eye Blink Gallery - Jan. 16, 2002 - 2 1/2 stars


Uninhibited spice of life variety is the usual fare at student shows, whether it be Herron or high school, because exploring all media is still available, creativity is encouraged and competitive and the inevitability of a non-art day job has yet to kick in. This body of senior Herron photo work, as a whole, doesn't quite hit the experimentation or risk-taking level that an art school education should allow. An animal rights interactive installation of fur coats and photos does effectively force viewers to participate voluntarily and react/think involuntarily, howver. Overall, the artists' work didn't look challenged from a subject/content perspective - their talents not pushed beyond technically commendable work. But the black and white farm animal images were well-composed and had a personality all their own. Through Feb. 28, 2003; 317-636-6363. -Mary Lee Pappas

Scott Westphal - Munce Art Center - Jan. 16, 2002 - 3 1/2 stars

Five minimalist bronze sculptures make for a mighty art statement when seen corralled together as a body of work. Too often, Westphal's ever so gently wavering steel beam-fabricaw forms have gotten lost in multiperson shows by being stuck against walls as if they were curatorial second thoughts. This small sampling of oxidized bronze work, set into a small, unassuming gallery space void of colorful abstractions, is really perfect for allowing the blocky work to trust the space and create a striking visual experience - you'll forget that the evolving Munce Art Cerrter's floors are brick patterned linoleum. These five, truly minimalist, sculptures softly quiver and stretch out of their industrial facade irtto organic geometrical forms recalling the sensibilities of Indiana's own niega-minimalist David Smith. "Vaas," a piece contorted irvto a domestic vase form, tinkers with the illusionism of space and traditional aesthetics. Through Feb. 23, 2002; 317-873-6862. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Lyanne Musselman – Out Word Bound – Jan. 9, 2002 – 2 stars

Closed Dec. 29. Out Word Bound is a most excellent bookstore worth visiting regardless of whatever art may be hanging on its walls, and in this case, it's a smattering of forgettable black and white charcoal pet portraits. The face-forward, straight-on doggy likenesses were definite renderings of individual, distinctive pups that made this artist's work look commission worthy and cheerfully admirable, yet mundane and dull from a 10-foot distance. It looked like practice work when creative juices were indisposed or dormant. Close inspection revealed sloppy technical understanding of a pooch package and hesitation with drawing materials. A mere two stars doesn't mean that this artist's work stinks altogether, it means that Miss Musselman has the potential faculty to do work that could garner more stars with patience and practice. Cheers! – Mary Lee Pappas

The Photography of Ben Winans of Brookville, Ind., 1902-1926 - Indiana Historical Society – Jan. 9, 2002 – 3 1/2 stars

Rita Kohn gave a thumbs up review of the Winans photo collection book in the Oct. 11, 2001, issue, but after revisiting the exhibit four times, I thought that a review of the 34 (of nearly 3,000 shot by Winans) exhibited images themselves were worthy of accolades again. History is dictated by and large by authors with opinions and enduring images like those that Winans chose to shoot of modest, everyday Brookville, Ind., life where he spent his entire existence. Nestled in the rolling hills of Eastern Indiana, a stone's throw from Cincinnati and casket Mecca Batesville, Brookville was in its unassuming glory days when Winans snapped it up in its very ordinary grandeur without spectacle or staging. This is no-frills, turn of the century small-town Indiana life at its purest. With journalistic artistry and straight-forward distinguishing style, scenes of the 1913 flood and antiquated hard time rural lifestyles are captured in his crisp glass plate images thankfully accompanied with historical data about the captured event. It gave me quite a thrill to see my own great-grandfather's pharmacy (a stepping stone resident after leaving Kentucky and before moving to the Old Northside) in the backdrop of a most somber and humble Brookville funeral procession. Through Feb. 3, 2002; 317-232-1862, www.indiaiahistory.org. - Mary Lee Pappas