“The human figure as depicted in art is more than a study of anatomy and the play of light and dark on the flesh. Human gestures have the capacity to intrigue, unnerve and perplex. The scenes are familiar to our collective experience, yet something is askew, enigmatic even farcical. The figure takes on a mythical quality, encapsulating our dreams, delusions, deceptions and higher truths.” Curator Selena Reder
Figurative Folklore showcases six regional artists whose work turns on the narrative predilection in a variety of media and working styles that play well with each other.
Jarrod Becker’s mixed media painting “Binky Rise Above” is a colorful exercise combining drawing and painting techniques with an enthusiasm appropriate to the subject matter it depicts–juvenile antics on an urban playground. Though all the figures are without facial planes or happen to be facing away, the viewer is invited to dwell on the hopscotch action happening off the muraled corner of the schoolyard or public space. Who among us has not hopped on one foot over a chalk drawn game board in the sun? It seems that stimulating memories of the carefree joy of childhood is the main inspiration of Becker’s canvases including additional smaller works exhibited in a cluster format. These evoke scenes from festive carnivals as well as isolated wandering experiences.
Tyler Griese exhibits figurative work that confronts the viewer in an uncomfortable yet inescapable moment; one just has to remember the rest of the incident that never happened. In an ominously titled piece, “A Change of Plans”, a bright sunny day is darkened by a large man of vagabond description standing way too close for comfort with a scrutinizing unpleasantness about him. This character’s stance with his boot cocked on the rail, implies that a threatening event is about to unfold. What is the rest of the story? Would surrendering my sandwich or a cigarette (if I had one!) pacify the threat and diffuse the pending altercation? The viewer is left to sort out his own devices or effect her escape. In another painting entitled “The Edge” one experiences the uncomfortable position of the painted for as long as one dares before turning away.
Ken Page titles his piece; “The Whole World is Pulling for You”. This wall mount cutout of wood painted in acrylic, depicts a small boy wandering on the near crest of a pine filled valley, pulling his little red wagon. Innocence personified ambles unaware as the distant mountains yawn. In another work, “Up and Down, Down and Up”, twin lawn workers are busily working their sod in a sisyphesian exercise. The cutout format emphasizes the geometric angularity of the plot and the opposing efforts of both workers.
The husband and wife duo, Mark and Jan Wiesner, present sculptural pieces from their series entitled “The Red Corners”, inspired by Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. The figures in their collaborations communicate aspects of their own personal desires and experiences. Projecting from skewed geometrical corners, the cantilevered figures tell their story against textural background of scrap corrugated strips, artfully arranged for pattern or dynamic effect. One work entitled “Learning to Realize the Futility of Control” shows two straining figures spiraling out of touch, their fingertips grasping the widening void in vain.
Another work ,”Icon of Creativity”, depicts the act of a woman giving birth as a metaphor for creative conceptualization. The woman’s face betrays amazement as she sees the birthing process producing a miniature person, not an infant who, as an individual emerging from her ribcage, aids his own birth by pushing open the thoracic cage. This series of sculptures is unified with dark red color tone nuanced with variation. Both the creative statement and overall unity of the pieces are a credit to the couple’s collaboration from conception to completion.
Artist Stephanie Cooper presents sculptural works with seemingly playful doll and toylike imagery.
“Doll with an Ivy Dress” is a wood sprite spirit sheathed in a long gown of earth toned tatters and dyed laces; her arms dangle in appeal waiting to be held. It takes a moment to notice the spiraling ram’s horns that belie her wide eyed gaze and crown her wooden head, signaling less than innocent intentions. The title of another work alludes to encrypted cautionary content: “He who sups with the devil, needs a long spoon”. A smallish man dines alone at table. His arm is wired to maneuver an outsized spoon to his lips at the turn of a handle. Let the unheeding turn a similar handle on the other side of the sculpture and the devil himself ominously rises from beneath the floorboards. The title of the work urges prudence and circumspection when securing matters of personal need or desire from the fallen angel. Within the dual action of this seemingly innocent toy, lies the admonition of damnation by willing consort: a certainly powerful portent delivered by the simple mechanism of child’s play.
Covington Arts Gallery on West Pike
Exhibition dates: Feb 13 – Mar 27, 2015