Wednesday, March 23, 2005

John Detweiler: "Soliloquies" - Galerie Penumbra - March 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

As the title suggests, these works are explorations into the artist's personal thoughts. Detweiler does this exceptionally well through subversive images that are momentarily unsettling to view, but ultimately extremely appealing. The tactile quality of the marble dust and earth infused acrylic paints on plyboard lends a calm, sympathetic mood to what otherwise could
be unsettling images - a dog missing one eye, or the woman missing her features in "Passage." A chalky, sunny yellow peeks
around her right shoulder while the blue haze covering where her eyes could be has a stippled, gritty texture. She's smiling. The dark fields surrounding the protagonists in these pieces create a cavernous and contemplative feel. If you have not yet visited Galerie Penumbra, I recommend you do so while this show is up. Through April 21, 2005; 317-508-8043. -Mary Lee Pappas

Jan Scott Boyer - Utrillo's Art - March 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Herron Gallery was the last to host a look at Jan Scott Boyer's "Allism" outsider works in the fall of 2003 during the OUTside In show. Now, a collection of old and new works, which are steering away from Allism, are assembled at the most unique and unquestionably eclectic art venue downtown, Utrillo's Art. A former plein air artist turned outsider artist, Boyer's paintings are like mazes composed of layers of unlike images. Common motifs include Easter Island-looking heads and forms, tiny dinosaurs and solid circles of colors, or what have been called balloons. The carefully painted tiny lines, dots and images intricately assemble complicated abstracted scenes that happen to look rather sophisticated. "Environment," the newest painting here, features dozens of his Polynesian looking ancestral heads in varying scales with green boxes of color dispersed among them. The result is a pleasure to view. Thrift art and salvaged frames can also be found at Utrillo's.
Through March 26, 2005; 317-684-9883. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"Just Cause, Just 'Cuz" - Harrison Center for the Arts - March 16, 2005 - 1 1/2 stars

The HCA explained that this show "Juxtaposes the formal and the informal relationships in the worlds of law and art."
Photocopied information from the Internet on copyright registration for artworks and "Form VA" used to copyright art was available, but other than that the connection between art and theme was lost. And, an FYI to all artists, your work is copyrighted automatically upon being created. Was the theme perhaps designed to appease or garner the Indiana Bar Association and the Indiana Lawyer as sponsors? Attorney Sally Zweig, a great patron of local artists, helped select work for the show, but that hardly qualifies the designation of this as a juried show, particularly since she owns work by artist(s) selected. Is that fair? The predominantly brown-colored artworks looked very sparse in the space and, with the usual HCA suspects having their work displayed, had a same, stale quality. The exception was work by photographer Larry Endicott, who consistently brings quality to the local art table. His inkjet photos on handmade paper of an economically diverse Malaysia are treated in such a way that the images have a surreal and contemplative quality. Shows in this great gallery are starting to look the same. Through April 3, 2005; 317 396-3886. -Mary Lee Pappas

"Discovering Chimpanzees: The Remarkable World of Jane Goodall" - Children's Museum of Indianapolis - March 16, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Jane Goodall once remarked, "Researchers ... don't want to admit that they [animals] might have minds and personalities because that would make it quite difficult for them to do what they do ..." You will likely share her sentiment upon experiencing this exhibit. It's important for children to get familiar with their fellow inhabitants on the Earth and learn to appreciate them; it's necessary for parents to get a reminder also. This exhibit brings Goodall's work with chimps in Gombe to light. It's irrelevant that the exhibition quality isn't quite up to snuff; it successfully engages the audience with hands-on activities like chimp arm extenders so you can walk like a chimp through the forest staged in the center of the exhibit. What better way to gain appreciation for the intellectual capacity of this primate than by being able to climb into one of its nests or learn how to "talk" as they do. A Gombe chimp family timeline showing family relationships between chimps, family structure and genealogy is a powerful component that may inspire a new generation to be conscious of environment and social issues. Visit www.discoveringchimpanzees.com to preview the exhibition. Through May 30, 2005; 317-334-3322. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Interpretations of the Figure" - Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center - March 9, 2005 - 4 stars

The human form is one of the most prominent subjects in all of art history alongside, or in conjunction with, sex and religion. Take, for example, the 25,000-year-old "Venus of Willendorf" or Jan van Eyck's "Ghent Alterpiece." Building from mask and skull foundations, societies throughout the ages have developed their own ideas about the human condition reflected through artworks. In this exceptional University of Indianapolis gallery exhibit, Davida Shulman starts, however, with her flesh. Obese, her nude "Self Portrait with Postcards" is beautiful and grotesque at once with her voluminous skin being a focal point for this great painting. Overt and well expressed influences aside, this painting hits many marks successfully. Depicting a body at rest or in motion, with hyperrealism or abstraction, is a necessary component of every artist's training. Adding emotion and meaning, as the majority of works do in this show, kicks the significance up a notch. Pamela Deaton's life-sized "Plant Sacrifice," an abstracted female representation suspended from the ceiling, arms outstretched, is composed of dark brown earth with tree roots, acorns, leaves and Silver Maple seedlings packed into earthy putty. The meaning (connectedness to the earth and all that entails, the life of the female body) is profound. Every single work in this regionally juried show is deserving of mention
and should be seen. There are bronzes (a fine piece by Pat Mack, for instance), glass works, with sculptures staggered through the space on 12 white pedestals. Everything worked together. Fortunately, the U of I gallery space, a square room with high
ceilings and light parquet floor, has effective lighting - an asset for this art. Through March 18; 637-4574. -Mary Lee Pappas