Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Art and Soul, 2005 Fine Arts Exhibition - Artsgarden - February 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Eleven batik works by lzo are displayed in faux bamboo, brushed gold frames that compliment the work perfectly. Displayed this way his batik fabrics are given the fine art treatment they deserve. These paintings, composed by painting layers of wax on cotton, then dying them multiple times and adding sunshine, have an aesthetic beauty that reflects Izo's Dakar, Senegalese roots, but also possess an artistry that is definitely unique to this artist and batik master. Each piece is better than the next. "Sunset," of two white stylized figures side-by-side yet stretching apart from each other (the design of which is very sculptural), stand against a canary yellow sky with a red circle between and above them. Two-toned fish scale, rounded greenery surrounds them. The vibrant colors that evoke heat are broken by veins of black that threads through, sometimes bleeding into dark green. This adds a depth and texture that occurs naturally with this refined fabric process. lzo demonstrates great skill with his compositions. This is exceptional batik art not to be missed. Learn more about Izo at Jospeph Holiday also has his work on view. Though Feb. 27; 317-631-3301. - Mary Lee Pappas

Regional Scholastic Art Competition - Harrison Center for the Arts – Feb. 23, 2005 – 4 stars

The talent here was terrific, particularly when juxtaposed against the group show of local “professional” artists in the HCA’s current Chapel Gallery show, “Chapel of Love.” It’s a reminder that art is made from a deep place. One of the many amazing works was a self-portrait by Benjamin Sunderlin, a Jefferson High School student. He’s sitting on the floor painting (a symptom of an intense painter), squinting and assessing himself painting the portrait. What’s on view was harnessed through pretty typical classroom drawing and painting exercises, but the work from Jefferson High School was pretty atypically great. For instance, Kaitlin Wadley’s moody portrait of a girl looking down (in a bus?) gives a glimpse of a story, of a person, that’s compelling beyond being well-composed and well-painted. Sam Martin’s clown nose (very Doris Hails) pastel portrait with its green tinted shadow is another astute piece. Here we see a young artist who realizes that life is not black and white, but that even dark shadows have color. Carmel High School student Margo Simm’s drawing of a dress was also worthy of mention in this very inspiring show. Show ended Feb. 20, 2005. 317-514-6787. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

“Superwomen” - NCAA Hall of Champions – Feb. 9, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

Images of obvious female sports superstars like Jackie Joyner-Kersee, sit next to some obscure, though equally as exceptional, female sports figures in this empowering exhibit. Jodi Buren, the photographer behind this work, has had her images grace Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and Time magazines. The collection of images in this traveling exhibition are all 30 by 40-inches and depict these athletes in such a way that their personalities hit you before the depiction of sport. Most striking is sprinter Aimee Mullins, a Paralympian and the first double below-the-knee amputee to compete on a Division I track team. What gets your attention first is that Aimee is a knockout blonde. She’s posing on her back leaning up on her elbows with her ponytail going down the length of her back –she’s tough, provocative, and she’s sexy. Her prosthetic lower limbs, a vocal point of her portrait, hardly seem unnatural. Boxer Kathy Collins’ portrait is of her face and a glove. Kathy’s survivor vulnerability and strength are the essence of the image. In every piece, colors pop with rich vividness. Women seen here, from US National Team Biathlon member Denise Whitton, who’s portrait consists of her face covered by her poised rifle with only her eyes visible, to the fluid and feminine image of six-time world record holder free diver Tanya Streeter, define beauty, perseverance and triumph in a way that makes you want to get to know their personal stories. This exhibit, like all NCAA exhibitions, is pristinely presented, approachable, and thorough. for more information about women in sports and about the accompanying book for this show. Through May 28, 2005; 317-916-HALL. - Mary Lee Pappas

2005 Annual Student Show - Indianapolis Art Center – Feb. 9, 2005 - 3 stars

Quality and talent seen in the youth entries of this annual show is super-impressive, a credit to the talented staff who understand how to harness their young students abilities. Christopher Eley, age 11, had two of his glass works selected including “Feather of Glass,” a beautiful clear vase with delicate dashes of subtle confetti colors. Becky Gunderman’s (age 16) painting “Liane,” a merit award winner, shows uninhibited color and great freedom in defining the figure seen at an unlikely overhead angle. Quality in the adult categories, on the other hand, is a little hit-and-miss. Terre Haute elementary school art teacher Anna Chalos-McAleese’s sculpture “Thetis” easily earned its best of show title. People were drawn to peer into it whether they knew what to make of it or not. To me, the name itself “Thetis” suggested an abstraction of the immortal daughter of Nereus. A popular art subject for centuries, the mood of Thetis’ desperation, hope and endurance translated here through the softness, the cushioning effect of the work. Also of note were Mark Sauerburger’s canary yellow, opaque glass vases and, in the underrepresented fabric/fibers category, Caryl Rae Hancock’s entertaining raincoat and rainbow dress, “Dancing the Rainbow.” Through March 6, 2005; 317-255-2426. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

“Next in the Gallery…” - Herron Gallery – Feb. 2, 2005 – 4 stars

A great show of unlike works that visually mesh cleanly together is what this current installation of “Next in the Gallery…” successfully presents. New to the current configuration of artists are the astrophotographic works of Scott Johnson that intelligently manipulate technology into remarkably serene images of the cosmos. His approach infuses hours of film exposure, special optics, and varied observatory locations to create amazingly surreal and transcendental translations of the universe. His work represents another artistic category. The caliber of work in this show by all artists in it is superb and should not be missed. Through February 24, 2005. 317-920-2420. – Mary Lee Pappas

• Unpublished comments: The talent in the room is rather overwhelming to be completely frank about this particular show. To begin with, the toyish 2d/3d work of Chicago artist Karl Wirsum is perfectly playful as his vividly colorful and patterned characters cling and flank the walls heightening their sense of animation. His flawlessly smooth paint application and color sensibility effectively give more than life, but personality to his pieces even with their skewed perspectives and jello jointed anatomy. On the other end of the aesthetic spectrum, Toronto photographer Edward Burtynsky’s large scale post-industrial chromogenic prints (most on loan from the Indiana based John C DePrez and Lee Marks collection) are crisply real, gritty, and ripe with a forlorn mood, but still so beautiful. “Shipbreaking #49” features an abandoned and well worn steel rig the color of fire in the ocean with two ships on either side heraldic and distant. He’s captured a warm, hazy horizon line of gloomy grey that fades into a pink and then to yellow in the sky.” His work is truly stunning.

Artist Trading Card Exhibit/Exchange Event - Indianapolis Artsgarden – Feb. 2, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

I made 14 baseball card-sized mini works of art (collaged and painted abstracts created on gallery promotional postcards) to trade at this event. The ease with which I could acquire original art from artists around the globe, simply by selecting a piece of their baseball card-sized art that struck my fancy and replacing it with one of mine, was uncomplicated and democratic. The etiquette of trading was simple and very satisfying because 1) creating small works of art is quick and uninhibiting, 2) it’s being shared with artists who enjoy it and 3) one gets acquainted with other artists’ styles in this edited framework. In the end I acquired a screen-print from an artist in Australia with gold painted detail, an ink and marker abstraction from a Swiss artist and a print from the Zurich artist who started this art project (what he aptly deemed as “collaborative cultural performance”) in 1997, M. Vänçi Stirnemann. I traded for his 12,905th art card, to be precise. Knowing that my art will be sent overseas to the artists I swapped cards with is a thrill. My only disappointment was that there weren’t more people participating. Then again, this project is still getting underway in the States with local artist John Essex spearheading efforts locally. I recommend visiting and downloading the work of Max Hofmanner from Switzerland to see the caliber of participating international artists and find out about future opportunities to participate. Event was January 29, 2005; 317-631-3301. - Mary Lee Pappas