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 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, -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