Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Giselle Trujillo - Jewish Community Center – Jan. 26, 2005 – 3 stars

This accomplished sculptress (with public commissions under her belt) presents works composed from stone and wire, but most successfully in fiberglass and concrete. She manipulates concrete skillfully, texturing her pieces with brown earth colors, both opaque and shiny, to create unique and visually deceptive work. This is done best in a figure called “Curious” that, with its unnatural leaning posture and proportions including a flat pancake head, works and looks as though its been recovered from an archaeological treasure trove. Her quality of execution, fragmented style and vision waver greatly from piece to piece. Ill proportioned horse heads and figurative works are not detailed, but rather suggested in their incompleteness and lack of detail. Sometimes the illusion works, but mostly it doesn’t - with the sculptures left someplace between a poetic interpretation of reality and a too careful hand trying to create something intentionally rough. While sculptures of fiberglass and clay are given effective faux bronze finishes, the unflattering pedestals detracted from the work itself and should be replaced with something more complimentary that elevates her work. Through January 30, 2005. 317-251-9467. – Mary Lee Pappas

Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime - Eitlejorg Museums of American Indians and Western Art - Jan. 26, 2005

*pictured: 'Untitled (Desert Abstraction) (Bear Lake)' by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1931. Courtesy: Museum of New Mexico, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 1984.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime is an exhibition of anticipated and expected beautiful works that is also part art historical survey of this iconic American artist. The range of work shown covers her career, thus allowing the audience to easily tap into her pure intentions of conveying mood and emotion, or what is referred to in the show title as sublime. The show flowed well, following the development of her aesthetic sensibility.

This is partially accomplished with quotes from O’Keeffe (1887–1986) accompanying the 30 paintings in the show. These words lend a necessary element of insight that brings her art process to light and further enriches the concept of sublime.

One such quote reads, “I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way, things I had no words for.”
And so her works are ultimately a sincere expression of her awe from interacting and experiencing nature, whether it was the blue color of a sky or a dry leaf.

Unlike the aesthetic conventions of 19th century artists like Turner, who created expansive landscapes reflecting a gloomier side of the sublime, O’Keeffe indulged in it in the early 20th century as emotion inspired by a thing or a place.

Examples of 19th century landscapes are shown toward the end of the exhibition space for a conceptual contrast that proved to be more visually abrupt than beneficial.

Perhaps their placement was intentional, as they followed a wall of Alfred Stieglitz’s small black and white cloud study photographs, the “Equivalents.” Steiglitz was O’Keeffe’s partner and a notable photographer who created the series of emotive moon and skyscapes based on her works. These photos were a weak link to the drama of the early landscapes. Indeed, the tail end sections of the exhibit were visually choppy and lighting was uneven everywhere.
Glare was noticeable with the “Equivalents” (crowded and stacked with the upper row too high above eye level for a comfortable view) as the emulsion even caught reflections — a reminder that the museum’s expansion is a welcomed advancement.

“Pelvis with the Distance,” a 1943 oil painting belonging to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, is an exceptional O’Keeffe work in the show featuring a weightless, sculptural, bleached pelvis bone encompassing the canvas and breaking a minimal southwest landscape in half. Though a showstopper, it shouldn’t have been placed isolated from the bulk of the show as a finale piece. Examining the smooth petal-like texture and silky blending of O’Keeffe’s paints was a chore as lighting created severe shadows for viewers of the work. Regardless, it’s a powerful work that embraces everything that set her work apart from other Modernists and/or Precisionists.

O’Keeffe innovations — softness, clean lines, enlarged studies, femininity and simplicity in flat applications of uncomplicated colors — are gracefully portrayed in a 1927 piece, “Skunk Cabbage.” Color is minimal with brown, green and yellow creating a realistic image broken down by form into a botanical abstraction of nature emotionally modified. Such paintings effectively lend poignancy to her unique visual voice whether you are an admirer of O’Keeffe or not.

“A red hill doesn’t touch everyone’s hearts as it touches mine,” another quote reads, revealing the heart of how O’Keeffe became the important American painter exemplified astutely in this show.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime continues through April 3 at the Eiteljorg Museum. For information: 636-WEST,

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tania Shepard “Petals” - White River Gardens – Jan. 19, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

No show has complimented the White River Gardens as well as this show of black and white sepia toned floral photographs. The ten-inch square, softly diffused, close up images are framed in square, brushed silver, flat frames which are similar in color to the round stone wall in the rotunda. A softness pervades without the photos getting lost against the wall or grossly clashing with the interior as is often the case with art shows in this space. Compositionally, these works are great with individual blooms (porcelain like) seen as grand inventions of nature. This twelve piece series, “Petals,” explores the flower as a metaphor for faith, hope and love (which was reflected in the titles), but the result was convoluted. Just how are these flowers are supposed to do that? The flower symbolism didn’t synch with the intended emotions though overall they were lyrical, enchanting, and what you would expect from a photographer who specializes in weddings. Visit to learn more about this artist. Through March 13, 2005. 317-630-2001. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Emily Persic Schwank – Indianapolis Art Center – Jan. 12, 2005 – 3 stars

Like one of her influences, French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, Schwank seems to connect with her subjects and some of their melancholy states while creating crisply executed images that are slightly too sentimental to be strict documentation. Helen Levitt’s images of New York street life seem poetically parallel to what Schwank captures in some of her pieces. “Galway Street Alley Belfast 2004,” for example, an RC black and white print, is perfectly composed though an unchoreographed stroke of luck. A little girl walks along a wall lined with plants and laundry hanging above, through which the sun radiates a white, not completely overexposed heat. Though not altogether a succinct series, her photographs contain elements of intrigue making many other photography offerings in the city appear a bit amateurish. There is still room for great growth and mucho potential from this artist who’s on the right road. Through Jan. 17, 2005; 317- 255-2464. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Colleen Lauter – Monon Coffee Co. – Jan. 5, 2005 - 1 1/2 stars

My immediate reaction was that this artist was not just emulating or inspired by, but practically ripping off Douglas David’s fluffy peony and floral blossoms – both in composition and format. Yes, some ideas can simultaneously be realized independent of each other at opposite ends of the earth, but 10 miles from each other? Perhaps she is a friend or student. The best aspect of her uneven work is paint handling and color that gets diminished by skills that could stand sharpening for the still life scenes she is attempting to achieve. Her presentation is great, with elegant gold frames. Sometimes things should stay in the studio and some artists should refrain from prematurely exhibiting. When will local exhibitions stop being driven by sales or the desire for hasty success and be about the art and ideas? Fortunately, Lauter has the chops and drive to be much better than this anxious offering. Through January, 2005; 317-255-0510. – Mary Lee Pappas