Friday, January 17, 2014

25 Years/25 Artists @ William Busta Gallery-Some of my favorites

I thought I'd select a few of my favorite pieces here from the show.  There were other great pieces I didn't get to shoot from the likes of Michael Loderstedt, Laurence Channing, Christie Birchfield, Brinsley Tyrrel and Matthew Kolodziej. I apologize.

Tim Callaghan

Dexter Davis

Elizabeth Emery

Eva Kwong

More Eva Kwong

Kirk Mangus

Lorri Ott

25 Years/25 Artists @ William Busta Gallery

Lorri Ott.

Congratulations to Bill Busta on his 25 years as a gallery operator and champion of regional artists. I saw the show yesterday and marveled in the diverse talent that has been fostered in the region because of the generosity and dedication of Bill.  I was completely uplifted by the level of accomplishment, virtuosity and optimism that each artist displayed. It was a crescendo in the on going symphony of visual display that the Busta Gallery continues to put on.

Not much needs to be said about this comprehensive survey of all new works by artists who currently show with or who have shown in the past with Bill. Kind of like cells that make up an organism, the individual groupings of works by each artist by themselves are autonomous and fascinating but together click together and build up the full story of a region and its art.

The thing about this show is that it could be up all year, like a museum. There is so much to see and relate. One could easily return 3 or 4 more times and find something completely new. Here’s to at least 
10 more years.

25 Years/25 Artists
2731 Prospect Ave
Cleveland Ohio 44115

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Wood Engravers Menagerie @ Zygote

I have a fondness for printmaking ever since this fall I was asked to be a monothoner at Zygote press. They took  this non-ink slinger and let me run wild (supervised of course by a fabulous mentor) translating my craft and opening my wheel house up to that of paper and luscious velvety ink. I had a blast.

Long story short I have a real expanded respect for printmakers and on Friday I stopped by Zygote to see a group show of engravings. A menagerie indeed as the subject matter ranged from animal, flora and fauna. Some scientific. Others fantastical. All ridiculously intricate and painstakingly created in rich tones and energetic scratches. I really enjoyed the tiny prints for they forced me to get nose to nose with the work. Inspecting them like specimens. A nice nod to many of the subjects and the roots of engraving as illustration. Drawing is looking and the artists in this show helped slow down a chronic ADD boy and wowed him into the pleasure of careful observation.

A Wood Engravers Menagerie
curated by Eric Gulliver
@ Zygote Press
1410 E 30th St
Cleveland Ohio 44144

Laura Bidwell. Song of Desire @ 1point618 project space

After taking in the Mark Keffer show I took a ton of incredible tapas to the face and then headed downstairs to the Laura Bidwell show. The basement at 1point618 is a small low ceilinged project space and the darkness and spot lighting actually played perfectly to the subject matter of Bidwells photographs. I felt a little as though I had walked down into one of her crisp dark elegant works. Standing around in the shadows with only the lights of the halogen spots for lighting and talking with people we all became players in Bidwells theatrical and dramatic world.

Environment aside, Bidwells minimal, sparse classical portraits may share the same template in regards to set up but their formulaic and minimalist rubric was only so that the psychology and the wonderful differences of all of her sitters could emerge. Each picture set up mostly the same couldn't be more different. I love that such an ancient and simple form such as portraiture can still wow me and fill my imagination with great stories about each subject. Books could be written from the faces  in Bidwells photos. A true celebration of the power of the medium in an increasingly changing and muddled world of photography.

Laura Ruth Bidwell
Songs of Desire
1point618 Gallery
6421 Detroit Ave
Cleveland Ohio

Mark Keffer. We Don't Exist @ 1point618

Mark Keffer. Voids (no), acrylic and spray paint on panel, 84 x 48 in, 2013

I saw Mark Keffers show on Friday it was really nice. Keffers paintings don't reveal everything all at once which is one reason I like them. Another is that at the surface many of the works seem like successful formal and material explorations. There are crisp high key colorful lines pulsing and cutting through murky dark grounds. He's very good at creating a vibrating contrasting picture plane.

But as one digs a bit deeper and sees the specific motifs and shapes being implemented a different reading starts to happen. Much more than just playing with materials. I start to see celestial  and systemic references.  I see the micro and the macro.  Pill shapes could be matter, life's building blocks. The sleek colorful stripes and highways are like light waves or body system mappings like nerve maps.

In a few of the works there are cut-outs with small artifacts, bottles of a mysterious liquid. Some type of essence perhaps. In my mind it is magic much like the universe. Perhaps it is the old style apothecary jars. They are an interesting addition, offered up like a reference to what inspired the work. In addition to the jars Keffer uses portals in some of the paintings that seem to be like windows looking into a microscope or through a spaceship looking out. The images contained within are much more literal. There is some views of space and of micro organisms. The literalness shows us where the inspiration for the forms in his other paintings comes from. I like the portals but I found the imagery a bit too literal.

With the subject matter Keffer is dealing with I would love to see him try his hand at some photography. I feel like the wetness and chemical magic, materially, could really be a nice extension of his thoughtful practice. Not digital but rather some darkroom work. There is gold to be mined there with the metaphor of light and dark and the mystery and alchemy of the darkroom.

Anyways, rambling thoughts aside, Carl Sagan used to say we are all made up of star stuff and in Keffers paintings I see the smallest atomic building blocks and the deepest corners of space look an awful lot a like.

No Me (3), acrylic on cut paper, 30 in x 22 in, 2013

Mark Keffer
We Don't Exist
1point618 Gallery
6421 Detroit Ave
Cleveland Ohio