Winnebago Studios is a rabbit hole to navigate. The warehouse turned artist facility is a seemingly impenetrable block, unmarked save one tarp listing its name. Inside, unlabelled personal studios stud concrete hallways littered with random work. The place is desolate. Tucked behind a corner sits Studio Z.
Marlene Miller’s most recent show, Blood and Iron is a dramatic exploration in power dynamics. When you walk in the cooler you are dropped into the court of the king, surrounded by soldiers, jesters, holy men, and bastards. The soldiers are of mixed emotions. The clay of their eyes cast down, pushed boldly forward, or locked in confusion.
I’m amazed at how, still as they are, they control they exhibit over the space. The blocked tile is a typically a difficult backdrop to display against, but Miller has no such issue. Between the figures there exists a hierarchy of control. The king sits at the top of that ladder, defined not only by his crown, but by the level of detail with which he was rendered. Some of the characters appear cobbled, pocked, and split. The clay itself is so much of the form, and that isn’t as much the case with the king. He maintains characteristics of the material, but is uncannily human in form. His stare is one of the coldest in the room; resolute, stoic, and repulsive.
Within the scope of Miller’s work she’s able to show many facets of the personality spectrum. In this show she’s pushed a few emotions as far as she could. Guilt, shame, disgust, contempt, indifference. Art about the waging of war is often from the perspective of the bystanders and victims. Miller has shown here all of the complications that come from parsing those facts, and makes us stand witness to the other half of the results. These men have done terrible things. We know it, and they know we know it.
1. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK IN OIL PASTEL?
Like most artists, I have worked in several mediums, learning something from all of them, but 20 years ago after working with soft pastels for a number of years and experiencing the health results of inadequate ventilation I opted to try Oil Pastels and to my astonishment discovered their incredible versatility. I can manipulate this medium in many ways, experiencing an ongoing discovery of new techniques and that keeps my insatiable interest going.
2. HOW HAS YOUR WORK CHANGED OVER TIME?
Whenever we change mediums our style andtechnique changes simply by what we discover from their own peculiar characteristics. I must admit however, and as you will witness in this current show I continue experimenting with new methods and styles. Sometimes our work takes a turn without our realization and I say. "TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT !" My philosophy is: When you're green you grow, when you're ripe you rot!
3. WHAT'S THE MOST INDISPENSABLE ITEM IN YOUR STUDIO?
Having never been asked this question before my response wasn't immediate, to my surprise. Logically, I would humbly say "ME" for nothing happens without the artist's presence. But apart from that I can only say there is no one thing more important than another. Everything in our studio is there for a specific purpose and at any given time a singleitem can be the most indispensable. Also, at my age a stool to sit on has become VERY IMPORTANT! (Just a bit of humor )
4. WHO IS AN ARTIST WHO STRONGLY INFLUENCED YOUR WORK?
This also is difficult answering for I have been influenced by many but if I had to choose one, Wolf Kahn would be my choice, for his creative color harmony and the essence of subject. Everything unnecessary in his work is removed and what remains is the essence. Two others, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and George Inness both for their extraordinary tonal values and mood.
5. CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING NOTEWORTHY ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORK?
Most noteworthy as reflected in this current body of work, and as stated in question 1, is the variety of techniques and the addition of figures in one work, which I intend to do more of. You will also detect fine lines in some of the still Life works used for designing or in outlining. In closing I would add that I never really know how a painting will turn out because with few exceptions I don't do preliminary sketches. Any changes I make in Composition, color, or subject matter are made during actual painting process. I realize this is not the norm but it works for me.
We would like to thank George for his time, and we hope you'll come out for his show. The opening is September 15th, from 5-9pm
Architecture defines us as a culture, it encompasses the places we live, the structures we build to hold our cultural wealth, our places of worship, and our government institutions. We can trace our history through architecture by looking at the way buildings were constructed and maintained, or altered to fit a new cultural use. The theme of architecture in art has been a focus of mine not only in my personal work but it has been an element that has attracted my attention in the work many other artists. Curating this show has allowed me to explore the depths of this diverse theme and pull together artists from many different disciplines. When selecting the artists for the exhibit I wanted to present a diversity in the media represented as well as a diversity in the type of architecture depicted. There are skyscrapers, ancient landmarks, tract houses, futuristic cities, vernacular architecture of Africa, images of the future, and images of the past all represented in the exhibit.
The title “Building the Future” draws from the idea that the structures we build mark a specific place in time. However, these structures are made, for the most part, to last well into the future. Some buildings may remain hundreds of years, cycling through a multitude of updates, renovations, and repurposes, while others are left to crumble into ruins. Whatever the fate of these structures they all mark time through the way they are used or misused. Every time we as a culture construct a new building we are making a mark on our future. Art and Architecture are inextricably bound, and the convergence of these two interlocked elements of society create a captivating reflection of each other.
Trends within cultures ebb and flow through the structures societies build and the objects housed within those structures; one influencing the other in equal measure. Art and architecture reveal the values within a society and are part of what define a culture beyond written history. Every artistic movement throughout history has left its mark. From the exuberance of movement found in Late Baroque design, to the hard edge geometry of the De Stijl movement of the early 20th century, these waves of influence have been an evolution of or a reaction against the cultural ideals which preceded them.
I would like to thank all of the artists who participated in this collection of works inspired by architecture. Eric Baillies, Emily Belknap, Mark Bradley-Shoup, Rachel Bruya, Karl Borgeson, Mary Fischer, Rick Hintze, Richard Jones, Michael Kautzer, Ted Lott, Marissa Mackey, Ryan Myers, Andy Rubin, Allan Servoss, Trina May Smith, and Eric Thomas Wolever.
Ann Orlowski, Curator
I was immediately drawn to The Ephemeral Knot by the staggering craftsmanship, and attention to detail, but the subject matter is what holds you fast. Paul Nitsche’s work always pushes you with a somber confrontation. In this case, that there is no promise of life, or of moving unscathed from birth to adulthood. With the advent of modern medicine, most of my generation/region/social class isn’t acquainted with these facts. Families had almost four children on average in 1940, down to two and a half in 2002. In the United States child mortality fallen dramatically, cut by half just since 1980. In my 13 years of education in one school district, there was little mention of death. As with any similarly unique experience, this was the only one I knew. Even in moments where confrontation of death had become inevitable: the death of a friend’s parent, grandparent, or a student a year above me as the result of a rare illness, these subjects were discussed in hushed tones by us students amongst ourselves, with little to no direction from the adults, or authority figures. I think that sums up the handling in that environment pretty well. Rare, whispered, awkward, and tragic.
What Nitsche is doing with this piece is bringing this discussion to the forefront with honesty, respect, and beauty. It is symbology of frailty, disaster, and decay. The detail of his rendering leaves very little to the imagination in this respect. Here is what he has to say in that respect:
“Something akin to a Memento Mori, The Ephemeral Knot is a sculpture depicting the bridge between youth and death. The child's hand grasps a clavicle bone, the first bone to begin the process of ossification. The clavicle can be regarded as ancient in terms of the body, and here represents time's passing as well as the end of life. The red silk bow is tied around three extensor muscles: Extensor Digitorum, Extensor Digiti Minimi, and Extensor Carpi Ulnaris. These muscles, in general, function to extend the fingers and wrist. Their role here is to illustrate release, a letting go of life. The knot, or bow within this piece, represents life. The loosening of a knot could be seen as the unraveling of existence. Interestingly, the silk bow will be the first component of this piece to decay, as the rest of the materials are far more time stable. Lastly, the snail, with its coiled shell, is another reference to journey and purity.”
It’s hard to get more specific than that, but in this case I think it makes sense to treat the piece with extreme specificity. It’s far more important to have clarity when the stakes are this high. Even still, I don’t think anyone will consider his body of work in a mile of “safe.”
Watch as Kelli Hoppmann takes a piece from sketch to underpainting to gilded to finished piece.
Richard Jones' recent show, Only Connect, is a challenging exhibit. Though this is his second show in our cooler space, the thoughtfulness in each of his pieces always impresses me. This level of care and attention to detail goes beyond what I consider reasonable in my own work, which inspires me to push myself even further.
The large structure Jones constructed in our cooler space was built specifically for the room. Small openings cut into the shell reveal the construction in limited cones, relying on multiple viewpoints to assemble a complete picture of the charred city within. In doing so, Jones has made internal conversation, or, preferably, conversation with one another a necessity to form understanding. As such, these ideas are not solely mine. Not by half.
Jones’ use of material as metaphor enchants me. While an artist working in glass might create mirrored surfaces, the use of literal mirrors is interesting, and feels especially poignant in this context. Through the inclusion of found mirrors and other such objects in his wall work, I see Jones drawing a direct connection to self reflection. Using found objects creates the impression that this is an assemblage of memories, artifacts, and remnants. His altering and augmenting of them creates a dream-like space; a location that becomes inhabited by everything you bring into it, filling the gaps with your own context and understanding. Although Jones has left ample room for the viewer to draw their own conclusions about his installation, it seems clear that he has a profound concern for the health of the environment and the earth we live on.
When I approach Only Connect, I feel a sense of loss, and of warning. I’m an optimistic person--almost to a fault. No matter the situation I encounter, I can’t help but see it for the benefits it may bring. This isn’t to say that I don’t acknowledge tragedy, but that I think that the universe has a tendency to drift from pain to absolution. Only Connect feels to me an acknowledgement of the potential for human tragedy in the situation we find ourselves in.
I take great comfort in the idea that if we manage to destroy ourselves, in some flight of idiocy, madness, or malice, the Earth does not need us. It should be entirely selfishness that we try to recover. We could potentially cause a catastrophe so large that all it leaves is the burned husk of our civilization, setting the evolutionary clock back millions of years. Still, no fire yet has burned so hot or so long that the plants, microbes, and fish haven’t found a way back.
If we really want this relationship to work, we should probably start trying a little harder. Unlike us, the earth could move on.