Wednesday, March 26, 2003

William F. Kaeser - Midland Arts and Antiques - March 26, 2003 - 3 stars

Fourteen paintings by Indiana artist Kaeser, from his estate, are currently available for sale by Tom Shipley at Midland. A 1932 Herron graduate, Kaeser is probably best known for his WPA post office mural, "Loggers," in Pendleton, Ind. Having studied with William Forsyth and Clifton Wheeler, the German-born Kaeser painted his share of Indiana landscapes and was as such affiliated with the Hoosier Salon. He exhibited at the New York World's Fair in 1939, much to his credit as well. Modern figurative works were his preference and reflect the crammed, active spaces presented in this group of work. "Topless Tango" has a Good Times feel to it. Its compressed composition of furious topless dancers stacked next to each other has a folky flatness. Most of the pieces, images of Midwestern common man condition, have this mo5aic ambiance. Priced fair for worthy pieces of Indiana art history and worth a look. 317-730-4573. –Mary Lee Pappas

Douglas David "Indiana Peonies" - Midland Arts and Antiques - March 26, 2003 - 3 stars

'INDIANA PEONIES': DOUGLAS DAVID 3 stars Midland Arts & Antiques. Blankets of lush, predominantly pink peony oil paintings line the entrance walls at Midland A palette of soft, rich periwinkles and pinks cover the unframed canvases, creating a light and airy atmosphere. Unrestrained wide strokes push these safe and minimal colors into their bushy flower likenesses. Though paint is handled loosely, the romantically pretty work is too safe to be truly expressionistic, The sense of grace and pastel hues recall Rococo, though are nothing Watteau would know. David beautifully composes his still lifes by gently balancing form and tone. The eyes move gently through his pieces. The small crop-shot peony bloom series is abstracted just enough to suggest their bunchy shapes. This could be said of his even smaller peony oil sketches, full of whirlwind energy, that are a bargain at $65 each, two for Sl 00. His landscapes carry lavenders and deep blues experienced at sunset. By default, everyone in Indiana will have a David work of art in 2003 because he designed the new license plate. Through April 27, 2003; 317-267-9005, -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Randall Scott Harden and John Reynolds "Close to Nature" - Hoosier Salon - March 19, 2003 - 3 1/2 stars

The new and without question improved Hoosier Salon Gallery can boast space, better fighting and easier access to the organization. Traditional Indiana landscapes get a color-tinged twist in the works of Harden and Reynolds. Harden's painterly depictions of Power-laden scenes are executed with thick impasto swabs of color impressionistically dabbling his canvases. His picket fence views are less inspired than the nearly biomorphic oil on paper small landscapes. Smooth and shiny, they are abstracted just enough. "Sunlit Givery," with its purples and pinks against green and hints of blue and hot red on the horizon, are a testament to his well-balanced visual talents. John Reynold's many rooster, cow and nature paintings are executed expressively with a cooler color palette and softer hard. Teals and pea greens shadow and highlight his roosters while contrasting vibrantly against the red-red cock's combs. "Hereford at the Fond" is a comparatively tiny piece at 7-inches-by-5-inches. It's a realistic representation of a cow you'd want to know, with streaks of purple reflecting in the white waters, Both artists are excellent and produce quality in their traditional genre. The Hoosier Salon is a prime, and recommended, spot to view and weigh the transition traditional painting is undergoing in Indiana. Through April 12, 2003; 317-253-5340. –Mary Lee Pappas

Jennifer Bartlett "Prophetic Agenda and the Feminine Mystique" - Jarrett Engineering - March 19, 2003 - 1 1/2 stars

(5335 N. Tacoma Ave.). A federal judge ruled in 2001 that Barbie could be parodied by artists it, their work. Since then, artists have much abused this Mattel medium to explore sexuality, female stereotyping and pop American culture. Barbie exploitation is seen so often that it has become pitifully cliched, particularly in contemporary art photography. Just in time for Lent, Bartlett presents a softly focused, dramatically lit Barbie and Ken enacting stories of the Bible and the Apocrypha in this photo series with titles that include "Eve Defies Adam," "Ester Saves the Jews" and "An Adulteress Repents." You need not be a Bible-thumper to be confused by this show. It's a wee bit overwrought with intended symbolism, among other things, to be just goofy. Local photographer Cy McOuigg, who has done comparable doll imagery, does a much better job. Located in the far corner of a smoky old office (you have to weave between work stations to see it), the work is framed really nicely, complete with brass title plates. Not all atypical art venues work (hair salons, for instance) but the staff was gracious and this office had an eclectic charm. Here is a random smattering of national Barbie art photography to peruse:; Through March 21, 2003. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Caroline Mecklin - Deano's Vinos - March 12, 2003 - 4 1/2 stars

Mecklin, known for her nudes and portraits, presents an outstanding new body of work. Her approach to painting is so distinguishable and proficient that it is a delight to see her stretch beyond her already high standard of excellence. Everything is polished. In one piece, a pastel lounging woman is framed by the fabrics she lies on - shapes and dashes of bright color surrounded by black. The spontaneous, patterned image advances toward the viewer and conceptualizes reality and the human form. This odalisque is elegant, beautiful and masterful. Another portrait, in charcoal, is inspired. Mecklin's unending artistic examination is demonstrated well here and worthy of note. An artist reception will take place March 21. Through April 4, 2003. –Mary Lee Pappas

Edie Gray - Joe Reuzar's Deli - March 12, 2003 - 2 stars

While the black beans and rice at Reuzar's were delicious, the art on the walls was bland and state. The collection of naive acrylic abstractions lacked technical substance, yet were still expressive, maybe even personal, in their own psychedelic way. Unfortunately, they carried a generic, replicated look. Only "Soul Dance," with its swirly pastel colors, had a more fluid edge. The manipulated photos on display better expressed the artist's aesthetic sensibilities. While the compositional continuity was maintained, the colors were hotter and the warped forms had depth. The work was enhanced by excellent matting and framing. The photos spoke for themselves. 317-916-DELI. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Me, Myself and I, Self-Portraits - Indianapolis Museum of Art - March 5, 2003 - 3 stars

The collection of self-portraits, from Durer to Rauschenberg, are sensitively conceived representations of the artists’ personalities and serve as valuable documents of art history. Primarily black and white images (etchings, engravings, lithos and drawings) are crisply presented in plain, bleached wood frames with white mats. Ibis enhances the sketchy and intimate feel of the show. Self-portraits are, as the exhibit explains, "artistic exercise” that every artist utilizes to sharpen skills. Aesthetic sensibilities, status and technique are sharpened through these self-studies. They convey what the artist thinks of herself or, in the case of this grouping, mostly himself. George Cruikshank, who illustrated Grimm's fairy tales and Charles Dickens works, represents himself in the same manner as his famed illustrations. A piece by a promising Indiana artist f the late 19th century, Charles David Fiscus, is displayed. One of only two works completed by this artist before his death at the age of 22, it is delicately and masterfully rendered, especially when compared to fellow Herron student Glen Cooper Henshaw’s pompous pose. This is a show (the Goya and Mora pieces are very cool) that artists and students of art history should see and savor. Let's hope this gallery doesn't experience the abnormally high levels of humidity plaguing the Turner Gallery next to it during this wet weather. A renovated facility with more than a mere hygrothermograph can't come soon enough. Through March 9, 2003; 317-923-1331. -Mary Lee Pappas