Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Full Circle: James Willie Faust - Domont Studio Gallery - Feb. 26, 2003

Full circle: James Willie Faust
Visual Arts Review | Thru March 22
Mary Lee Pappas

*Pictured: "Auspicious Night" by James Wille Faust

John Domont speaks articulately and poetically for the art he represents at his Domont Studio Gallery. His words are coup for gallery hopper James Wille Faust, who has settled at Domont for his first solo show in three years. Simply said, the paintings are more of the same - more rote than ripe. A myriad of highly defined, primary colored, stay-in-the-lines circles and triangles wading or warping in modular forms. They need only a black light to enhance the psychedelic optical illusions.

Distance is best for viewing. Pencil marks peek from around the shapes, serving as reminders that these are created by human hand. The repetitive, mechanical formula within Faust"s compositions appears playful and familiar. Hanging powerfully as a group, it"s apparent that his superior color balance and tonality have become more sophisticated and refined.

Internally, the pieces visually contract - not unlike the works of Op artist Auguste Herbin whose famous 1944 "Air, Fire" painting fundamentally achieves what Faust"s do, but without a final acrylic airbrush layer. This body of work (landscapes and the human being series) is, coincidentally, titled Earth Air Fire Water, in tribute to those elements. One influence on these pure-effect works that command questionably steep prices could be early sales successes.

Faust, actively collected locally, is a favorite big fish in our little pond. But his brilliant sculptural models, intended for monumental public works of art, make his paintings look like sketches. Given the opportunity, Faust"s artistic vision would gloriously come full circle. Geometry within geometry, these 3-D pieces bring his hard-edge imagery to spectacular, inspired life. It would be in the interests of the Indianapolis Art Center and the Indianapolis Museum of Art to include him in their sculpture park plans. Through March 22; 685-9634.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Bartosz Pietrzak "Pietrzak Puls" - The Photography Gallery - Feb. 12, 2003 - 4 stars

Photographer Bartosz Pietrzak was exiled from Poland in 1982. As a member of the Democratic Opposition Movement, which started in 1976 and became the future inspiration for the national solidarity movement in Poland, Pietrzak was co-editor and photographer for an underground paper, the Puls (Pulse). "You had to do something. It was hopeless," he said of his journalistic efforts. Martial law was imposed on Dec. 13,1981, sending him to prison, but not for long. "They were visibly interested in getting rid of us," he explained of the government. Pietrzak was given a choice in 1982: stay in jail or emigrate to the United States. Grabbing a few personal belongings, including photos, Pietrzak and his wife left Poland. Half of the 20 photos on exhibit at the Photography Gallery are piecemeal examples of his black and white work from the 1970s. Some of these were rescued by friends and sent to him here. These images have been digitally reshot, cleaned up and reprinted, resurrecting them with the same integrity as their original gelatin silver prints. Others have been executed over the last three years. "For 20 years I didn't do anything until three years ago," Pietrzak said. Digital photography was the enabling factor. Most all of the works adhere to a photomontage convention. Viewing the photo fabrications of environments and objects is like reflecting on, or entering, a daydream. Unmodified portrait images from the 1970s are strikingly candid. Pietrzak's explorative montage method is successfully demonstrated in this deserving and splendid show. Though diverse, the images have a poetic uniformity. Pietrzak has exhibited in Germany, Denmark, Malaysia, India, Great Britain, Brazil and now, fortunately, in his Indiana home. Through Feb. 28, 2003; 317-423-9237. –Mary Lee Pappas

2003 National Scholastic Art Awards of Central Indiana, Inc. - Harrison Center ofr the Arts - Feb. 12, 2003 - 3 stars

Three hundred terrific artworks selected from over 3,000 submitted by junior, middle and high schools from around Indiana. Eleven professional artists judged and ranked the works as Gold Key (highest award on a regional level), Silver Key (second highest), Honorable Mention and the Best of Show Awards, known as the American Vision Awards. Gold Key and AVA winners' works will go to NYC to be judged for over $1,000,000, in awards and scholarships, then travel to Washington, D.C., for exhibition. Any of the mature Gold Key drawings created in Jonathan Kane's Carmel HS class will give their national competitors a run for their money. His students have quite a competent and comfortable grasp of color and values, Carmel HS and Jefferson HS (Lafayette) are by far the best represented out of the 582 eligible schools. Visual arts magnet Broad Wipp4e HS was represented by a slim picking of six pieces, but happily garnered an AVA and two Gold Keys. Though some of the work isn't completely indicative of students' own freedom of expression, the overall magnitude of talent is great and, even more, inspiring. To say I had a favorite piece in the show just wouldn't be right. But I must admit that as I have painted in my studio, just up the stairs from the HCA Gallery, I've traipsed down to the gallery to specifically visit work by Joseph Chang, Gold Key Fine Arts Portfolio winner from Harrison HS. Through Feb, 23, 2004; 317-514-6787. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Millet to Matisse - Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky - Feb. 5, 2003 - 3 stars

A joy if you love art history, miserable if you need to visit the two-seater lavatory. Millet to Matisse is fantastic but not the blockbuster exhibit touted. Pioneers of 20th century painting, Van Gogh, Monet and Matisse were used as marketing candy to seduce an audience for a brilliant tutorial. This collection from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, is rich with examples by artists who are sometimes overlooked, like Alfred Sisley and Adolphe Hervier. Paintings by Rouault, Corot, Cezanne and even a piece by Utrillo expertly walk you through a revolution in artistic technique and perception. The Speed was not equipped to handle the car traffic, or the pedestrians awaiting entrance into the show, The limited audio tours were sold out and the line for the WC was longer than for the exhib7it. This show travels to the Frick (Pittsburgh) next and is well worth a visit. –Mary Lee Pappas

Katherine Hanley Knutson "Flowers and Animals" - White River Gardens - Feb. 5, 2003 - 2 1/2 stars

Proficient photo-realistic watercolor paintings of polar bears, zebras, elephants, bears and penguins from the Indianapolis Zoo all look beige and blend into the stone wall of the Schaefer Rotunda where they hang. Though beautifully framed by JoAnne ETC, as a group, the adept works suffer from sameness. Images are painted as intended with little overall surface mixing. The comparatively colorful flower paintings were equally skillful though the still lifes looked like funeral arrangements instead of escapist bouquets. Proceeds from sales benefit the Indiana Zoological Society, Knutson's work is also available in the Indianapolis Zoo's gift shop. Through March 9, 2003; 317-630-20O1. -Mary Lee Pappas