By Mary Lee Pappas
This sixth annual Herron Alumni Show maintained the hodge-podge sameness of shows past, though this time around the collection of very unlike works were exhibited in a hodge-podge setting — the vast warehouse lobby of Midland Arts and Antiques Market. Basically, the setting was as drab as the art.
Several pieces in the show were individually deserving of praise, such as John Gee’s “Co-Folco,” executed in 1963. It was out of place it’s so good — triangles and half circles formed from fields of multicolored pattern that looks modern for the time. “Public School #57” by Harry A. Davis (former faculty) and “Seated Nude” by Frank Downton, executed in 1963-’64, were among the exceptional pieces on view.
Most of the work, however, was humdrum and forgettable, hanging by wires from a makeshift-looking metal pipe-rigged hanging system. Hung too high for a comfortable view, they lost color against the brick wall background. At least everything was centered properly. Is this all that lone juror Greg Lucas of G.C. Lucas Gallery had to pick from? His aesthetic sense is such that it can be trusted blindly, so it’s a reasonable guess that entries weren’t quite up to snuff.
Though an unfortunately uninteresting and uneven show, it is indicative of a larger cultural conundrum Indianapolis falls victim to: innumerable shoddy art shows without vision that forsake quality for just another exhibition opportunity.
Indianapolis has had a constant visual arts scene predating any political cultural initiatives. Local visual arts culture has not been recently generated as campaigns might make it appear. Yes, there is more art now, but quality has never been more in question.
Herron has been a major contributor to local art history — its sheer longevity deserves praise. Herron also has substance beyond the citywide promotion of the arts … and beyond this exhibit. But if this is the best that Herron alumni can share publicly, then how can an Indianapolis-based art school expect to compete on a national level?
The 2004 Herron Alumni Show was at Midland Arts and Antiques Market and closed June 25.