Sunday, October 08, 2006

Humans: An Art Opening at Gallery 80808

Wim Roefs has done it again. He has selected artwork based on a theme and presented Columbia with an amazing collection by four important area artists. These are: Jeff Donovan, John Monteith, Dorothy Netherland, and Herb Parker. The show runs through October 17 (after which is the "Shelter" show of which I am a part!)

It is a fabulously intellectual show. It pulsates with disturbing ideas about mankind. The works both compliment one another and set each piece off into a realm of its own. I walked through the familiar space, the area right outside my studio door, and was strangely transported into some foreign setting. Was I in NYC at a high-brow opening? Were these pieces really intended to be viewed from one's living room? How could a man understand childbirth so personally that he could use the OB-Gyn instrument to view the vagina as the facial features for a sculpture?

Questions spun around my pea-brain while I went from one remarkable work to the next. Steve and I were already familiar with some of it. We'd framed the pastel images that Jeff Donovan had on display. In fact, Jeff is the only one of the four artists who we actually knew. It wasn't hard to pick out Dorothy Netherland. Her vintage pattern styled dress almost matched her imagery of 1950s idealized domestic life. Her medium is reverse glass painting. It is sad that no spacers were incorporated between the two layers. In a decade, the southern humidity will have peeled the paint from the glass. Without "breathing" room, this is to be expected.

(Dorothy, however, looks far younger than her years. I put her at least ten years my junior. She's only 45. We had a very nice conversation. I honestly think we have a common background as women, mothers, artist, and lovers of pattern.)

John Monteith is from Columbia. I've seen the name. I must have seen the work. I'd never met him until the opening. I hated the presentation of his art. From the corner of my eye, it all looked like high quality digital photography. In fact, it is all oils on a paper called "yupo". Why anyone would willing make their work look "cheaper" and part of a numbered quantity rather than "one-of-a-kind", I'll never know. Yet, John Monteith said he liked fooling people into thinking that these were something "digital" or new-age. All his work is appropriately called "Untitled". This does allow viewers to form their own theories. Yet, talking to the artist only made the high quality of the work dissolve for me. He was just too arrogant and self-absorbed for my taste. It is strange how an artist's personality can add a wash of color to their work!

If Herb Parker was in attendance at the opening, I didn't know it. He is undoubtedly a genius. His sculpture is both thought provoking and well crafted. Pieces of mixed media blend so well together that it is impossible to tell where one medium starts and the other picks up. At the same moment, I have no idea who can afford such art for the mere notion of a good idea.

In all, five pieces sold. Four were by Jeff Donovan. Jeff is my friend. He has always treated me with respect and kindness. More importantly, he has always taken my ambitions to become an artist seriously. I am honored to be among his friends. Just as one artist can cause me to lose interest in their work, another can cause me to purchase their art. Steve and I own four of Jeff's pieces. He is interesting and so is his work. He is also affordable and it didn't surprise me to see the red dots on the tags of his work.

I am also quite relieved about these sales as Jeff owes us for framing. In the past we've traded framing for artwork but currently I'm working two different trades: one with Suzy Scarborough and the other with Janet Kozachek. I can't really afford another trade with an artist for which I already own four pieces.

My parents saw the show. It was sort of cute watching them look at the edgy pieces and trying to look comfortable and sophisticated. It reminded me of so many things (some pleasant, some not so nice). How many times have older people's tastes been discounted only to have history want to repeat itself with just those same qualities. I must remember that "cutting edge" shouldn't always mean offending the elderly or even confusing them! They, too, once were young and their opinions still should count!All taken in, the show is still very, very good and worth a long, serious look. I am quite proud to be working in my studio just a few feet away from these pieces.

No comments: