Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Friday Meanderings - May

Harrison Center for the Arts
1505 N. Delaware St.

This First Friday saw Artur Silva with buoyed spirits after just getting news that the Fort Wayne Art Museum is purchasing two paintings. Silva had been holding a weeklong sale in his studio to make some additional space available. He pulled out some older large canvases which made it easy to compare the painting style of just 2-3 years ago to the prints he concentrates on today. The most striking similarity is the use of white space (negative space). His paintings include a realistic subject left all alone in the middle of it's own universe. The eye is forced to engage the focal point.

Current projects involve a lot of photography followed by intricate layering in Photoshop to produce complex designs produced in very limited edition prints. Political, social, and economic issues are portrayed in a subtly graphic fashion that allows the viewer to reach their own conclusions.

Entering the exhibition of Cheryl Paswater's "Garden Party" caused confusion over whether I had found a young students workshop show instead of the one for a highly educated New York artist. Paswater's paintings on paper had the appearance of being sketches for future ideas rather than material for a solo show. Her work from a few years ago is much more solid and engaging. She has deliberately simplified which is a perfectly fine goal, but it's like she's become more childlike. Instead of innocence, her abstractions and palette choices chased me straight out the back door.

Big Car Gallery

1043 Virginia Ave. Suite 215

Tom Christ's show was on my must-see list. I was intrigued by the online advertising showing this piece with the description of "...The face speaks volumes even when at rest, never completely muted in its stillness or silence. It is for me a constant and compulsive muse." The first thing that struck me was that most of the other portraits were darker and muddier as the multiple lines making up the features intermixed. Christ is successful at what he's doing based on what he has written: "My paintings exacerbate this exchange, imposing a paranoid, hallucinatory view of the subjects. Here they exist as cartoonish illuminations for the human condition; characters in an absurd comedy..." Christ's "flirtation with human form...embodying disquiet and psychic tension" seems to be a cruel mutation between Fauvism and LeRoy Neiman.

Murphy Art Center

1043 Virginia Ave.

Congratulations to Jeremy Efroymson on the opening of his studio in the Murphy Arts Center. Efroymson's first show, "Signs", was a safe exhibit in space that still had that just-moved-in feel. His photographed subjects were exactly what the show title says: signs. The shots I overheard being talked about the most were of a church sign with a curved metal frame that looks like it could have once been a beer ad, and a peeling, faded wall painting for the Super Museum in Metropolis, IL (displaying painted images of Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, and Dean Cain).

Dean Johnson Gallery

646 Massachusetts Ave.

Dean Johnson Gallery put on one of the better shows I've seen there with "Dreamtime", a show inspired by the PBS series of the same name. With several paintings in the show, Sofiya Inger finally found a compatible environment for her psychological struggles and symbolic angst to be viewed. It's not surprising to find that paintings based on such personal stories can find additional meanings and gain more profound interpretations when surrounded by skilled artists working in a similar vein. Usually artwork is expected to stand on it's own, however an element of context can intrude to effect our sensory relationship.

In the far room at Dean Johnson is a video experience created by IU's Margaret Dolinsky. The two collaborative works involved a programmer, animator, musicians, and quite a bit of equipment. While standing before the large plasma screen, face recognition software and filters put the viewers in the ever-changing choir. As more people are recognized, the choir intensifies and gets louder. It's a lot of fun, and Dolinsky was ready to provide visitors a printout of their participation.

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