Monday, October 24, 2011

The Rest of the Road Trip: Need/Want & Territory

In conjunction with the Impressionists exhibit, the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture has mounted two additional exhibits with no apparent relationship to the first - which simply means, a really broad experience with hopefully a little something for everyone. I wasn't so sure about this Want/Need theme, assuming it would be all about environmentalism & recycling. There was quite a bit of that, but there were other very thought-provoking works having nothing to do with the environment.

One of those would be "Ask" by Ara Lyman-Gregg, an encaustic painting with photo transfer. That center portion really did radiate brightly between the more muted side panels. Her artist statement lent no clue as to what she's expressing here, just that her work begins with "emotion from a single event or idea" and ends with self-discovery.

It was hard not to notice this large piece, looking all the world like a giant mat for placing hot dishes on - at least that was my initial reaction. But I love its mandala-like flow and the earthy colors. Just how did artist Tim Oberst do that?

It's called "A Sand County Almanac" and it is made from strips of corrugated cardboard layered to expose that corrugation. It gives the feel of a cross-section of a tree trunk, now that I think of it. I want to use it like a giant stamp or throw a piece of fabric over it and use it as a rubbing to transfer that wonderful patterning. Not what the artist had in mind though. From his statement: "To portray meaningful relationships for a complete world, reality must be distorted and recontextualized. As a model, the dissection of nature must offer a selective, hyperfocused and incomplete view of its ephemeral scenarios."

In light of the recent oil spill along a river in Montana, there wasn't much head scratching about what Tamara Stephas was trying to get across in her oil and acrylic "Spill." She creates this lovely, almost impressionistic landscape which morphs into the spill itself. What interested me was the way she extended the canvas below the underlying stretcher frame and then twisted it, as if to wring out the oil. Hard to see that in the photo.

As a final thought on this theme, I was particularly intrigued with this sentiment (although not so much with the art that went with it). It turns on its head that saying that I grew up with: waste not, want not. My parents, having lived through the Great Depression, were very big on making do. On the other hand, there were things my dad in particular did not want to do without because he HAD been subjected to no other choice but making do. He'd just smile at me when I'd chide him for what seemed like unnecessary wastefulness. He'd paid his dues, he knew what he wanted, and he didn't care if it was wasteful. Yes, the ecology movement was not one he joined although he didn't mind the challenge of seeing if he could solve a problem with what he had on hand. Just don't ask him to give up his paper plates and Styrofoam cups.

The last exhibit held lots of promise, but I was disappointed with the offerings. You'd think that the collaboration of an older, established artist with a young emerging artist would produce interesting, if not truly exciting art. I liked a lot of the artists individual works, but there wasn't a single collaboration that worked for me. (I should note, this was not true for the gals with me.) So I am just sharing some of the individual work that caught my interest.

If you are into puns and irony, you would probably like the work of young artist Brenna Helm. All of her pieces were minimalist oil on white background. This one is named "The Perfect Plan."

She was paired with her father, Robert Helm. We stood there asking, "How did he DO that?" This one is called "September Wall" and is oil on panel, although you would swear it has to be oil on stone.

Equally impressive for its realistic rendering is "Untitled". You would not believe that wood grain to be painted.

Nor that this was not three-dimensional.

In a totally different vein, we were delighted by the humor in Daniel DeSiga's acrylics. "Alien Invasion" has a very Salvidor Dali flavor to it.

And I'll let "Latino Space Parade" speak for itself.

Finally, for a couple of my Internet friends who dabble in altered books, these "Altared Books" by Emily Sooter.

Remember that you can get a larger more detailed view by clicking on any picture.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Sheila. It's taking altering books to a new level isn't it. I saw one recently in our local Oxfam shop that had been cut away and everso carefully arranged so it looked like a waterfall of pages falling through the air. It reminds me a bit of Victorian quilling/paper lace making etc. Fascinating.

DPLblog said...

Thanks for bringing my attention to Brenna Helm. I've liked Robert Helm's paintings for a long time, I'll have to see what Brenna is up to in our shared, online studio known as the internet.