Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Andrew Hutchison, Skateboard Photogrpher - Two Sisters Trading Company - March 31, 2004 - 3 stars

Hutchison is a skateboard journalist, having both witten and photographed the sport professionally for publications like Heckter Skate and Big Brother. That said, the photos collectively are an essay on the sport. They capture athleticism, speed, motion and even some bloody palms rather beautifully. There is a certain stillness to the images that conjures up the heightened sense of self-awareness and meditation it must take to muster up some of the risky stunts skaters pull off. Lining a hall and filling a little room of this new, funky gift and clothing shop, they are artful and should hold the interest of anyone who appreciates quality photography or skateboarding. A distinct sense of skateboard culture across the U.S. is what you'll take away from this exhibt. Through April 6, 2004. -Mary Lee Pappas

Thomas Kerrigan "Desert Soul" - The Bungalow - March 24, 2004 - 3 1/2 stars

The color of these hand-built earthenware pieces from the artist's Desert Flora Series were oxidized metal. Predominantl opaque surfaces contrasted with high, primary colored glossy glazes emphasizing intricate design elements that appeared hot next to the overall cool finishes. The richly detailed surface treatments of the abstracted ceramic sculptures possess an almost irresistible tactile quality, like sand on a beach that you want to run your fingers through. The complexity of the surfaces and the soft curves of the pieces are imbued with meditation and tranquillity. Though March 31, 2004; 317-253-5028. -Mary Lee Pappas

Brad Schwieger "Cut Constructions" Architectural Vessels" - Artifacts - March 24, 2004 - 3 1/2 stars

The NCECA Convention's presence in the city has, without question, beautified the place. With these high-quality ceramics exhibitions happening all at once at so many venues around town, it was difficult not to get a healthy dose of good art last weekend, no matter which way you turned. Schwieger's (Ohio University Ceramic chair) skewed architectural ceramic sculptures, displayed in the window of Artifacts, were absolutely intriguing. Disassembled and reconstructed built forms possessed flatness and contrasting volume, giving them a kinetic, wobbly feeling. Symmetry in his column pieces (like architectural balustrades) was moderately distorted, creating a visual sensation of melting. This vapor, soda fired treatment only enhanced the animation, the movement of the forms. Through April 10, 2004; 317-255-1178. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

"Common Clay: Creating Old and New Ceramics" - Indiana Historical Society - March 17, 2004 - 3 stars

This is an overview of Indiana's pottery history, including a manufactured piece from the American Art Clay Company (AMACO), which mainly sells pottery supplies now. Most intriguing were examples by the Overbeck sisters, who produced work from their Cambridge City home (now a museum) from 1911 until 1955, when the last living sister, Mary Francis, died. Lovely, abstracted flower patterned vessels (probably thrown by Elizabeth and decorated by Hannah) are exhibited alongside little people and animal figurines, known as "grotesques" or "humor of the kilns" that the sisters made to earn pocket money. An exhibition on the unmatched Arts and Crafts sisters (who took their art secrets to their graves) alone would be most welcomed as this little element of the exhibition was great. Exceptional contemporary pottery pieces flank the second floor, like "Mother's Milk" by Kathy Roussel. It's a white shiny porcelain wall sculpture of three stacked utter covered round forms. A wonderful show overall, it's unfortunate that the pieces were distributed so thinly throughout the facility instead of dedicating a concentrated gallery space to this exhibition effort. Through June 6, 2004; 317-232-1882. -Mary Lee Pappas

Patrick Craig Manning " Cardinal Points - The Photography Gallery - March 17, 2004 - 1 1/2 stars

At the Photography Gallery, when pieces are visually uninteresting, the quality and presentation are usually still quite high, redeeming the work. In this case, the presentation is faulty. The Bitmap Series, multicolored cubes of color that, as the statement explains, are "created by a computer program that randomly assigns 16.7 million possible colors to each file in the digital bitmap file," are printed on an Epson matte paper that bows from the flat black mat boards they are mounted to. This presentation is sloppy for such visually clean work, although one image from the series has a small ink globby in one mini color block that is glaring against the mod design. The artist's intent, that each map is a "presentation of choices, a record of what we value, what we represent, and what we ignore," is ineffective. Through March 31, 2004; 317-423-9237. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

"Cartoon and Caricature from Iran" - IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery - March 10, 2004 - 2 stars

Artists' statements and inspiration or purpose for the exhibition were not available. Stylistically, nothing about this work suggested a distinctive sense of place. It looked like it could have come out of any American newspaper. Organized by the Iranian America Student Association of IUPUI, this small exhibition of work by Touka Neyestani, Nik Ahang Kowsar and Massad Shojaitabatabai (IUPUI students or artists from Iran?) left something to the imagination. Cartoons and caricatures on display were inkjet reproductions of originals with some colors and details being lost in this process. A predominant theme was that of power struggle touching on the war in Iraq. One cell depicted Saddam Hussein in a Santa suit being approached by a small reindeer that asks, "Are you a Bad Santa?" Many of these frames could very well accompany news pieces covering current events in the Middle East. Through March 31, 2004; 317-274-3931. -Mary Lee Pappas

Maryann Michna "National Road" - Bona Thompson Center - March 10, 2004 - 2 1/2 stars

A video specialist at the Indiana State Library, Michna is too dependent on her camera to achieve painted works that make up this show based on her back and forth travels along U.S. 40, the old National Road, from her home in Terre Haute. There is a meditation that takes place when you drive great distances in a car by yourself with an awareness of horizon points, sky and landscape whizzing by. Epitomizing that experience most effectively is an acrylic on clayboard painting, "Three Views of 40," where three landscape scenes are stacked to achieve this experience. Other paintings executed with acrylics on clayboard are painted in a hurried, gestural way, like a painted sketch. Paint appears flat and opaque as it is thinly applied. The anxious appearance of the work overlooks tone and contrast while simply filling in shapes with some color. Through April 18, 2004;
317-353-BONA. -Mary Lee Pappas

Maria Magdalena: "La Familia" - Munce Fine Art Center - March 10, 2004 - 4 1/2 stars

Abbreviated and generalized family portraits in oil, whose circular and rhythmic compositions fill the canvas space, are elegantly linear and refined. The naturalistic faces are masks of serenity, waning on elongated necks. Romantic and weightless, they recall the gentle quality of Botticelli's works (think "Birth of Venus") and Modigliani's portraits though stylistically they are Magdalena's own. Soft, vibrant shades of lavender, cool light blues, yellow and oranges fill the flat pictorial Cubist-like components. These works capture the soul of Magdalena's family. Every element of good painting is represented in this body of work. It should be noted that prices are not only reasonable, but also actually low for this high quality of work. Cheech Marin should have one of her pieces in his collection. This will knock your socks off as will the exceptional blown glass vases by Joan Schneider created specifically to accompany Magdalena's work. Through March 20, 2004; 317-873-6862. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Judy Leiviska - Cafe Patachou (Carmel) - March 3, 2004 - 3 stars

Leiviska's work on display, monotypes and color reduction hand printed woodcuts, possess a tranquillity through muted color and a linear execution of composition. The elongated quality of the woodcuts is reminiscent of water rushing wherever it goes, giving the work an element of rhythm and life. Colors, such as muted deep purples and greens with an undercurrent of faded orange, further this sense of ease, stillness and softness. One abstracted monotype, on the other hand, is composed primarily of red, yellow and blue (the sacred trinity of color), with touches of washed orange and light blue. The blotches of color, dry and smooth, are given a pulsating life through her gestural application. The basic colors and hot white paper background achieve an engaging, sophisticated abstraction. More of Leiviska's work can be viewed at the Hoosier Salon. Through March 31, 2004; 317-569-0965. -Mary Lee Pappas

Rick Epley - Cafe Patachou (River Crossing) - March 3, 2004 - 1 star

A gallery owner recently asked me, "Who do you think is buying all of these art supplies at art supply stores and craft stores?" Painting prowess doesn't always lie in a particular brand of paint, a certain grade of prefab canvases or any other marketed utensil pointed in the direction of aspiring artists. Aside from acquiring a painting mojo (a very beautiful thing), there is an element of fine tuning that needs to occur, a level of craftsmanship that needs to go hand-in-hand with desire and is to be aspired to. Epley's sequences of strictly decorative, layered squares lacked substance, depth and a sense of color even though the paintings displayed possess bright palettes. These works, filling the north wall of the restaurant, did just that - they filled a bare wall. Through March 31, 2004; 317-815-0765. -Mary Lee Pappas

Christopher Smock - Cafe Patachou (49th & Penn.) - March 3, 2004 - 3 1/2 stars

Acrylic and graphite on board paintings line the very poorly lit south wall - unfortunate for this good show. Nevertheless, red "sold" dots are affixed to the title labels, testament to the astute quality and reasonable prices of these pieces. Produced primarily from leftover theatrical set supplies, these works are polished and superior without a footprint of their workroom origination. Great artist's statement, too. Smock's art doesn't pretend to be anything it's not though it hardly lacks substance. Void of pretension or ulterior motives, a sincere interest in craft shines as this artist has seemingly freed his mind of sales, material cost and ego. Local street scenes, interiors and bustling spaces are laid out in washed layers of acrylic to compose accomplished representational images. Expressionistically sketchy, these paintings are inspired and aptly executed. More please. Through March 31, 2004; 317-925-2823. –Mary Lee Pappas