“Inside,” my first big group show with CAW (Creative Arts of Women) opened on St. Patrick’s Days at the Cultural Arts Center. There are many fine works on display but here are some of my favorites.
Linda Leviton’s piece might as well be an icon for the whole exhibit, it’s that strong. I adore the way the blue dress lifts off the quilted background, yet remains tied to it via the tastefully understated sexy-bits appliques. The veil-like net overlay offers a delicious amount of mystery, sorrow and danger. It keeps the piece firmly in you-must-look-at-me-longer-than-a-minute territory: just long enough to enjoy its beauty but long enough to make you uncomfortable. I like art which jumps around like this. Well done!
April Sunami’s small, bedazzled cigar-like box is another standout. The piece is so well-lit, the crystals flood the area around it with pleasure, like a Queen’s tiara.
But inside, a jagged mosaic of cut-up credit cards tells another story. There’s a satisfying depth to this imagery which disinclines one from the usual “gobble and git” mode of gallery gazing. I lean toward art which is complicated and paradoxical. Real life is full of beauty, sorrow, menace, freedom and captivity, all at the same time. I think art should be too.
The show contains just the right amount of multi-media offerings to keep things interesting. I usually find video presentations to be understandable only to those with an elite art education, but this one by Christine Guillot Ryan is within my grasp and absolutely gorgeous. Maybe it’s the musician in me, but I especially admire the thoughtful attention to rhythm. Not only are the images attractive in and of themselves, they morph one into the other at a pace slow enough for apprehension but not so slow as to wander off into the mind-numbing celebration-of-the-banal which usually accompanies these efforts. Sitting in front of this thing lulls one into a dreamy ocean of suggestion which gives something back for the viewer’s time. I may turn into a video convert!
This piece strikes me as funny and deeply disturbing: a creature consisting of organ-like bunches of fabric making its way through a see-through intestinal tract. Yikes! There’s a lot which could be said of this piece but anything which invites repeat viewing is OK by me.
Heidi Madsen did a lot with this old dress-form-and-mannequin assemblage. There’s so much metaphor packed in here you could go on and on about it for days. I especially admire the way Heidi solved the obvious visual problem of the empty space between the mannequin and the floor. The spray painted Styrofoam balls of various sizes anchor the piece in an elegant rhythm which delights the eye while still engaging the head. There’s a suggestion of hobbles and balls and chains, but also a delightful, bubbly lightness which transcends them all. You could spend a lot of time looking at this thing.
Feminine imagery abounds in the show, including this lovely allusion to Queen bees by Megan Evans. There’s also a whole lot of blues to be seen, which seems strange. By some subconscious agreement, nearly every piece in the show occupies a space in the blue range. It’s a puzzling coincidence.
These platters of fused glass continue the trend. I find the hardened shell over an empty center to be intensely suggestive: a bit of freedom protected and imprisoned by a glittering unyielding crust of….what? This is why we need art. It invites everyone to manifest their inner philosopher!
It’s hard to tell from this pic but my piece, “Oak Tree With Cow” is brilliantly lit and wonderfully hung. You never know where you’re going to end up in a group show, so I’m profoundly grateful to receive such strong placement. My piece is one of the few that isn’t blue, so maybe that’s why it ended up being one the first things you see coming in the door. There are many, many other wonderful pieces which aren’t listed here but suffice it to say, it’s a strong and deeply evocative exhibit. I’m happy to be a part of it.