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, -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