Curious, amusing and ingenious
By Mary Lee Pappas
*Pictured: Work by Greg Hull is part of the Stutz ‘Return of the Residents’ exhibit.
The Stutz Art Gallery, a corridor of crooked walls, is a space that lends itself to installation. Any visual encounter in this small space has an element of unpredictability to it due its incongruence. It’s especially enticing with the current efforts of former Stutz resident artists Greg Hull, Larry Endicott, Susan Watt and Emily Kennerk, on view in an exhibit called Return of the Residents.
“Supersuberbia,” a miniature stenciled landscape scaling the length of the south walls by Kennerk, is conceptually ingenious. Intellectually embodying Indianapolis’ contemporary suburb culture, it speaks volumes about home, family, work and conditions of the American way of life, or as Kennerk’s artist statement reads, “The transitional state of our current modernity.”
Beige prefabricated housing bordering I-65 plays the protagonist in the scenes set off by little clusters of green trees. Mass produced with neutral siding and roofs, the rows of cookie cutter box homes recede in skewed perspective into the horizon line suffocated by a vast, overcast Indiana sky. The repetitive, yet very specific, panorama bends around the walls as if they were turns on a highway. It’s a many-sided meditation on the literal and figurative illusion of home and the new, real Indiana landscape. Kennerk’s installation, an intrinsic quest to explore neoteric Midwestern culture, is both fascinating and effective in surveying this human experience. Demonstrating that art is more than trivial play or aesthetic escapism, this is art for life’s sake.
Suspended from the ceiling, Hull’s mechanized sculpture “Indeterminate Volume” employs a Minimalist aesthetic. Ordinary black umbrellas open and close intermittently, abstracting time more than space. Rhythmically, the kinetic gizmo swiftly transitions from one umbrella to the next with the nylon material creating a quiet swooshing sound reminiscent of an ocean wave. The theatrically imagined large spherical object appears to breathe as if mimicking something cellular or organic. Curious and amusing, this piece successfully interacts with viewers and its environment. It’s a spectacle that’s cause for conversation.
Watt’s installation, composed of cassette tape film and other similar rubbish from obsolete technology, climbs to the ceiling from the floor. The spiderweb of shimmering brown ribbons merges with the architecture and winds its way around the air conditioning vent. The plastic cassette sheaths are staggered through the netting as if technology is its own black widow. Watt’s ability to embrace space and meld it thoughtfully to a concept is unparalleled locally.
Two separate wall sculptures by Watt, “Logo Landscape 1” and “Logo Landscape 2,” composed of blue Astroturf, multicolored neon cable and twist ties, electric tape and an assortment of hardware store accessories (Watt works exclusively with discarded materials), are assembled similarly to a latch hook rug. Visually booming, the abstracted canvases demand attention. Emblematically puzzling, a certain subordination to product and lifestyle branding is raised by these neutralized, color heavy signs. It’s a subtle commentary on how, visually, these lifestyle labels ultimately capture our attention.
“Nucleus Origin” by Endicott, a photographer, is a series of six color transparencies of a glowing girl against downtown Indianapolis settings that include Mass. Ave. and the Mapleton Fall Creek Neighborhood. She looks as though she’s disconnected or isolated somehow from the active surroundings she inhabits. The conceptual grouping maintains the glossy look that defines Endicott’s work, including stylistic lighting devices and an overall commercial appearance. Displayed in wall-mounted SPI light box fixtures, the ghostly female figure in each vignette looks like energy, the essence of an apparition. She is the embodiment of a nucleus from which all else stems — whether that is in the form of a past life or one that has yet to be.
Four very different approaches to space and environment are presented well by this local all-star cast. The Stutz Gallery serves as an excellent venue for this work and for offering artists the residence opportunity. Return of the Residents continues at the Stutz Art Gallery through June 11; 833-7000.
Applications for the 2004-2005 Stutz Residency are available at www.stutzartists.com/residency.htm.