Sunday, June 07, 2009
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The idea of using large shipping containers as the base for installation artists displaying their skills at utilizing space is exciting. Primary Colours, a not-for-profit organization devoted to facilitating “interaction between visual artists and the community”, sponsored “Installation Nation” as a juried event. Located on an empty lot at the corner of Michigan St. and College Avenue for just the weekend of June 5-6, the show also included food and music.
Five containers were arranged in different angles on the property for the ten artists involved either as a team or individually. Three of the five artists chose themes around “home” and a sense of place.
Lori Miles, sculptor and faculty member at DePauw University, chose to arrange a variety of individual pieces to define her sense of place within the confines of a space that forced her to leave out some of her larger art. Doors, fire escapes, UFOs, and fire poles contain a context for her space. Miles moved around a lot in her childhood and comes to think of “things” to define a home and not a house. The UFO and its landing pad symbolize an arrival for the “ultimate commuters”.
Past museum worker, Michele Bosak, continues her cataloging of possessions and uses the medium of installation to share the comparisons of her everyday objects with her nicely stylized little square watercolors – all framed identically. Each drawing is labeled with the objects description, date of purchase, and amount. I couldn’t help but ask her about what she knows of Jennifer Dalton* who is currently showing in New York shelves of cataloged items of every one of her material possessions. Interestingly, Dalton also gained her obsession of cataloging everything from a past job with Sotheby’s. Bosak is familiar with Dalton but says she started doing her own style of cataloging before knowing of her. Bosak’s creation of watercolor drawings has a charm that is more enjoyable than Dalton’s photographs.
A pleasant spring day sitting on the back porch seems to be the inspiration for Kathryn Armstrong and Jill Marie Mason. The entrance is flanked by a freshly planted garden with classic metal table and two chairs. The pillows on the red metal chairs promise a nice comfortable visit. But the stay seems to have been interrupted considering the two half filled bottles of lemonade. Flowers and a postcard ready to be written add to the ambience.
Debbie Rosenfield lost her job when the World Trade Center was destroyed on 9/11. She moved to Ohio to start a new life as an artist. About a year ago she started learning Photoshop and is currently creating digital art. Roesenfield’s installation consisted of six framed artworks hung on the back wall. A digital projector provided a slick slideshow of other works. One was supposed to be able to text commands and get replies back, but unfortunately a necessary WiFi connection made the slideshow just a random presentation rather than the planned interactive show. While the art shown was pleasant they weren’t memorable.
The last shipping container was put together by an unidentified artist who wasn’t around for the first hour Friday. I don’t want to make a guess as to whom. Placed near the back was a false wall with a square opening. In front of the opening was 12 plastic cups supported on metal rods. Behind the opening was a fan (furnace type) blowing out over the cups. I assumed the breeze was supposed to wave the cups around a bit, but only one cup seemed to be much effected. It didn’t effect me much either.
I don’t know what the judging process involved or how many people entered. I do know I was expecting to see some stimulating, cutting-edge, thought provoking, or bizarre installations. Instead the installations were pretty safe. It was fun to explore from container to container. Being able to talk with several of the artists was the most valuable part of the experience. Overall the adventure Primary Colours provided was wonderful. Their purpose, “To create and sustain a thriving environment for the visual arts through unique exhibitions, workshops, and special events” was successful. I’m looking forward to finding out what their next event will be.