Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"Americana" - 805 S. Meridian St. - Sept. 15, 2004 - 4 1/2 stars

Dear Laura Bush, poets are writing more anti-war poetry now than ever even with your censorship of it at the White House. And the poetry of Elizabeth Krajeck ("Color-coded Sin Advisory System" and "Color-coded Homeland Security Shame Advisory Card") inspired this satirical and passionate exhibit curated superbly by artist/photographer Jack Hartigan. Krajeck's poetry paint chips and expressions of grieving for democracy fill a chalkboard as you enter the space, setting a smartly critical tone of how free speech has been stifled under the current "W" administration. That sweeping theme is allowed to breathe in this space, with each participating artist's political statements being expressed and understood without the use of pretentious, contrived or overblown jargon. Every piece in this show is of great quality and could stand alone as simply a great piece of art. Though each piece is worth discussion (aesthetic, technique and intent) the photographic works of Hartigan are ripe with shrewd satire and censure of the current state of our government. A portrait series based upon a 20th cerrtury German photographer, Walter Sanders, depicts Indianapolis citizens, including one of a Latino immigrant. When viewed in the historical context of Sander's work, the image addresses the issue of temporary work permits that enable a modern state of slavery and questions the current state of human rights. "It's Almost 9:11; Church and State; It's Almost 9:11 " is a piece that takes direct aim at civil rights without brashness. It's a six-image photographic triptych, half true-life documentation of a local Catholic elementary school and half of enlarged studio-shot hands - a hand over heart during the recitation of "The Pledge of Allegiance," a handshake between a white and black hand and hands in prayer. Our flag hangs above a picture of Martin Luther King and President George Washington in one frame with another frame showing a statue of the Virgin Mary draped with a rosary that also shares the classroom space. A cut out of Sponge Bob near the statue reminds us of the effervescent youth that inhabit this school and of childhood. The clock on the wall indicates the time as nearly 9:11 a.m. The center scene is a close-up image of a child's awkward new cursive on large lined beige paper that reads of gay hate rhetoric posted with other written assignments displayed in the school's hallway. It is shocking and sad, but also a reminder of the freedom upon which this country is based and of what faith truly is. Other participating artists are Angela Edwards, Adam Noel and Linda Adele Goodine. For more information contact Jack Hartigan at Through Sept. 17; 955-8601. -Mary Lee Pappas

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