ReviewArt

Art Experiences in Bloomington, Indiana, and elsewhere

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Another great art week in Bloomington


As part of my own artistic process, I try to take in other art in Bloomington and when I can I try to write about it.  There is always so much going on - one could easily become obsessed with experiencing it all to the point of losing track of one's own art!  There is always a balance to be found, or at least sought, in the plethora.

Last week started with two days of student films at IU Cinema.  It's hard to remember all the films I saw over two days - it added up to about twenty short films, I think.  They were all really interesting.  The one that struck me the most was probably a diptych film of a man and a woman standing in a corner, separately, and being splashed and splattered with clay.  I guess it was striking to me because it was so much like a painting.  Another favorite was the story of a female band that ditched their egotistical male lead singer - mainly because the lead actress was low key brilliant.  I'm not sure why, but her character seemed very real and very interesting - you wondered what was going on in the character's mind.  There were some documentaries that told you more than you knew about various departments at IU.  There was a film that depicted Bloomington as a futuristic dystopia  defended by a superhero vigilante.  Overall I was left wanting to see more.

A friend of mine, John Knight, gave me a cd to listen to.  He does noise music, with collaborating friends, and he seems to be very interested in the way a band can be a kind of evolving community.  Almost anyone is welcome to participate, including children.  This particular CD seemed to feature a lot of ranting that became more and more frantic until it finally seemed to turn into primal scream therapy.  I always think that John's work has a dada meets art brut sensibility, combined with an interest in rock music and pop, a love hate relationship that demands parody and subversion.  I guess that is just what I see in it though.

Tonight I got to see a couple of great shows at Artifex Guild, one of my favorite venues in town.  There were three ensembles, but I saw two, both duos.  The first performance I saw was by a touring duo.  As always seems to be the case, their setups were fun to see, combining beaucoups electronics with self-created setups and instruments.  Monowolf also projected a film.  They seemed to me to have a strong antiwar message, which I much appreciated.  The sounds were explosive, probably the most explosive I've heard in a concert, making one feel that one might actually be in an explosion.  There also seemed to be a kind of rage against those who take advantage of people's longing for ways of peace, longing for a better way.

Lather/Sommer played last.  Ben Myers played guitar (apparently taking a break from his Optigan ;)), while Dave Sommer played drums.  Myers' guitar playing is very emotional, it seems to me.  There is no straining for angst.  It is just there.  Sommers plays drums with incredible stamina, a seemingly superhuman driving force.  As I listen to these seemingly completely different approaches blend it seems to me that they sound the way life feels.  It's just amazing the way we human beings combine constantly swirling storms of emotion and angst with a driving determination that never ever ceases - taken together these forces sustain us.  I used to think about this when I traveled across country on trains or buses.  The feeling of life itself - the substance of life - you can feel it and almost see it when you are separated, even if just briefly, from constantly counting the wins and losses in your own life.  This is the feeling that Lather/Sommer seemed toevoke.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ravelation

A great installation art show, "Ravel", is taking shape in the Bellevue Gallery at the Farmer House Museum in Bloomington, opening May 6.  Kendra Strebig is creating a spaceship for psychonautical journeys through space and mind, inspired by her travels in India a year ago.  Stirring together memories of  Hindu shrines with echoes of everyday life, Strebig opens the doors of perception, the chambers of the heart and third eyes without number.  Incorporated in the show, along with paints, tie-dyed fabrics, strings and a glut of yarn;  are street trash from India, red mesh produce bags from the supermarket, painted stones, etc..  All these things come together in an organic profusion that overwhelms gently.

Strebig says that she isn't making the show to please anyone, even herself.  She's making the show because it needs to be made.  At the same time, the making of the show is a continual process of making and unmaking.  Something is pushed in and then pulled partly out.  Something else is glued together and then partially separated and pulled apart.  There is a kind of pulsation that releases creative energy.

A place for meditation has been set up in the show, reminding us that even in a show where everything seems to strain towards heaven, all things find their way back to the floor (to the earth) in the end.


"Ravel" promises to be a life changing experience for visitors.

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Television from the Inside - Jeremy Brightbill's paintings at Artisan Alley

Jeremy Brightbill's paintings attract one hypnotically, like interference patterns on the wire mesh of a screen door, or in the beamed energy of a crt ...
... pulling you in, closer and closer...
Each painting seems to be a blizzard of tool marks and colors.  Often,  regimented blobs and blips of color seem to be laid in over more emotional surges of color...

... but other times the seemingly more regimented overlaid lines and blobs seem to be bursting with emotion, in one case forcefully pushed into the underlying layers of paint ...
Roving art critic and connoisseur  Wildebrand Elisium took it all in at last night's opening reception  ...

... and discussed the exhibition with curator Nicole Pancini and artist Jeremy ...
Perhaps the favorite painting was Press Play Then Play Again?

In this painting, colors and strokes seem to have fallen, exhausted by contention and striving,  into a delirious melee.
Another great show at a Bloomington art mecca!

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Friday, February 19, 2016

June Onesti at the Bellevue Gallery at the Farmer House Museum

June Onesti has been a distinguished ceramic sculptor in Bloomington for many years and was the first teacher of pottery at the Waldron Art Center, starting in 1990...
June has been showing a mini-retrospective of her work at the Bellevue Gallery / Farmer House Museum ...
paintings by Karen Holtzclaw
Onesti's pieces are very muscular, even monumental...
... they seem to invite meditation on the relationship between human beings and earth in all its forms...
Exquisitely finished form is balanced against, literally on, dynamic masses of lumpen clay...

Glazes are used by June Onesti to add textures that seem to transform clay into hardened, crystalline stone, while also recalling biological slimes, creating effects both hard and soft...

Inscribed lines on June's pieces remind one of runes carved into rocks anciently...


Such runes represent star charts?  Dance choreography?  An advanced form of writing?
June works with classic forms too...
A similar pot seems to have melted and slumped towards a primeval form..
That pot seems to be in the heavy grip of gravity, but another bowl, even larger, somehow seems to scuttle away into a corner...
Fissures seem to drink in liquid pools of glaze, creating  textures that are lucious, but also wild and strange...
Wild mushrooms seem to sprout from some of Onesti's sculpted surfaces...
Onesti's flat pieces are my personal favorites.  On one hand they are simply plates, albeit very heavy one with tiny little saucers imbedded ...

I told June that her flat pieces looked like sacred cow patties.  She agreed!  Her work has a lot of understated humor, but it is very serious at the same time.  Onesti's works seem to speak about the relationship between human beings and the materials that they interact with, handle, play with, manipulate, etc..  Onesti's pieces are so monumental that they encourage us to think about the grand sweep of history, but so earthy that they stay grounded and remind us to do the same...

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June's teacher was Don Reitz, at the University of Wisconsin...

Reitz:
When I work I think a lot. Mostly it's not about that which is in front of me. That action is generally a spontaneous response.... Lately, due in part to the passing of my dear friends and heroes, I have been thinking about time. Surely the greatest gift of all, yet we take it for granted. This gift of time what shall I do with it? How much time is there? Will I waste it by worrying about the RULES, yesterday's idea, or about laborious, extraneous techniques before I need them? I choose not to.
...Time, an essential ingredient in firing, hardens and colors the clay, but also gives me time to think and look inward.

Time has enabled me to bring to my work a personal uniqueness...a bridge which allows me to move freely from reality to REALITY...
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Friday, February 5, 2016

First Friday February - Mothman?!

First Friday takes on an eerie quality at the Waldron Art Center this month ...
Mothman's appearance might have portended ill, but instead it portended some pretty neat flying art pieces...
Such strange-but-fascinating work by Edward Bernstein brought out the yearning child in our Hardened New York Art Critic...

But can you blame him?
Another fascinating sculpture awaited in the Vault, a walk-in cubist space...

... which got to our Hardened New York Art Critic right in the eye...
...and beguiled with implications of infinity...
Bernstein offers many other fascinating pieces...
My favorite was what seemed to be a doorway to hell...
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A friendlier mood was found next door, in an exhibit of limestone sculptures by Michael Van Vooren...
Van Vooren's pieces create a more convivial mood, which invites viewers to join in...
... even mending broken hearts, apparently!
That feeling of emptiness...
...soon filled...

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Upstairs colorful paintings by Carolyn Markey also explored the concept of void...
And filling the void...
...which made me think of the skylight grid overhead...
Thankyou Waldron and artists for many  flights of fancy ...
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