Monthly Archives: May 2013

Nelson Smith Exhibition

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As many who have explored my Ireland blog know, I had the great opportunity of working as a Senior Artist-In-Residence at Oregon College of Art and Craft the summer of 2011. I arrived aware of, and prepared to deal with, the three fault lines that run through the region and tensions the westward-drifting North American continent was imposing on the western coast. I made somewhat literal use of the fault lines to create tensions in cutting up my plywood surfaces and shifting them on each other, as in the Fault Line series in the current exhibition at KCAC.

In Ireland, just three months later thanks to a Lighton International Exchange Program Grant and a Fellowship from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, I was working less than six miles from the Ce’ide Fields outside of Ballycastle in County North Mayo. This is mostly an archaeology site where, beneath the peat bog, a culture from five thousand years in the past has been uncovered. In researching the Ce’ide Fields, I have been reminded of where the North American continent originated. I have read that the openings of the rocks in this region date back about sixty million years to the time when the American continent began to drift west from Europe. (researched by Dr. Seamus Caulfield and others related to the Ce’ide Fields) [ http://ceidefields.com/ceide/the-centre/ ]. Ireland’s west coast is the ripped remains of the severing of the landmasses – the opposite end of continental drift from my summer explorations in Portland.

Ultimately it dawned on me to take advantage of this serendipity. I brought one piece of red oak veneer with me from Kansas (actually purchased in Portland) that has veining that seems to be pulling away from each other. The resulting painting, in my exhibit at KCAC, is titled “Continental Drift.”

Nelson Smith

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Bowery Nation by Brad Kahlhamer at the Nelson-Atkins

Last night was the opening of a remarkable exhibition at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art entitled Bowery Nation by Brad Kahlhamer. The museum in conjunction with the opening had Kahlhamer and a panel, consisting of curators Jan Schall and Gaylord Torrence and Nerman Museum Director Bruce Hartman, hosted a discussion of the works on view in the Project Room and how the exhibition has evolved over the past 28 years since its original beginnings.

Bowery Nation brings together 100 hand crafted katsina-like dolls and 22 birds made from found objects and materials in Kahlhamer’s studio and day to day life. As one begins to study the sculptures you find bits of torn shirts that have become make shift dresses, bicycle tire tubes for noses, nails and screws are transformed into arms and legs. Kahlhamer’s dolls manage to evoke the same intrigue and mystery that the original katsina dolls of Hopi tradition brought to travelers and traders in the early 1800’s. One can’t help but look upon them and begin to secretly decide which their favorite is.

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Beyond the dolls as individual works, the Project Room has created an entire space for what becomes an installation piece by Kahlhamer. The dolls are displayed on a structure that is assembled from materials found in Kahlhamer’s studio. The table is then dressed with a single image that is repeated around the edge of the table. The image comes from the Lakota Thrifty Mart which is operated by the Cheyenne Sioux in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. The imagery of the logo itself repeats the landscape theme that seems to resonate through Kahlhamer’s piece. The table becomes a mesa, as the chairs and ladders represent mountains and plateaus and at the very top the birds create a “spiritual canopy” in the sky.

The evening paired with the opening of the exhibition and the lecture was a true delight. As a member of the audience I was treated to behind the scenes stories from Kahlhamer’s studio walls, interesting tidbits of knowledge from Gaylord Torrence in regards to American Indian Art, along with the incredible stories of Bruce Hartman about purchasing works for the Nerman Museum from Kahlhamer. It was with some regret that the night came to an end but I know that I will be back to the installation over the next few weeks to see what little details and nuances I might have missed the first time.

The exhibition runs until July 21, 2013 and will be open this weekend! So, take your family and friends for a fun and free event and make sure to stop in to see Bowery Nation.

Marissa Flynn

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John Hare Exhibition

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My uncle and mentor once told me, “Be thankful for your ability to create. It will get you through the hard times.” This was more prophetic than I could’ve imagined.

The paintings in my current exhibit in the KCAC Underground gallery were created during an especially turbulent time for my family which began with my brothers violent, inexplicable suicide gone wrong and ends nine months later with the simultaneous news that my brother had died and that my wife was expecting.

During this tragic period, I painted to escape, distract, comfort and to confront. I’d proudly share the works created to escape and distract. They benefitted from my desire to fixate on something other than the constantly evolving, ugly calamity my family was enduring.

On the other hand the paintings made to comfort and confront the situation felt so personal and honest that I found them embarassing and would hide them after completion. That dissonance in attitude towards my own art made me feel as though I was telling a half truth.

This exhibit allowed me to bring together those works I’ve struggled to keep separate despite their particularly deep connectedness. And in putting this exhibit together I realized that lesson should apply to all my art, not just for this particular period of work. Allowing these styles of very different origins to exist openly together tells a more complete story. They amplify each other.

Thank you to the KCAC for the great opportunity to walk through these personally evocative works with a new found level of clarity, and for the wisdom gained from that experience. It was satisfying and I hope the exhibit is interesting as a result.

John Hare

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Cathy Deuschle Exhibition

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The motifs for this art came from many sources including history painting, dreams, poetry and perception. I often cannibalized my own previous work. For example, I fit older paintings and drawings into the assemblages and collaged on top of previous drawings. My methods were many and I wish to touch on a few.

The two large collages began with a single drawing. I then made more or less random gestural marks with acrylic paint on many types of paper. I searched for marks in my paper stash that roughly corresponded with lines and shapes in the drawing, tore these out and glued them on. After many layers and changes, I cobbled together something I could live with. This process made for a very oblique and yet, at times, illuminating way into the work.

The hands are all casts of my right hand done by my left hand. The intention was to create a curiosity shop of common hand signs. The basic media for these are plaster gauze, mulberry paper, and encaustic medium. Other materials include moss, steel wool, thread, led light, and rose petals. Encaustic paint and medium covers other work here including eggs and the ubiquitous yet soon to be obsolete phone book.

The wings are a by-product that comes from my husband’s hunting. They are gloriously complex and profoundly symbolic. Watching bird activity enriches my life tremendously yet my knowledge of birds is disproportionately scanty. This work represents my awe and stupidity of these creatures, and my reverence and sorrow for the ones who were shot. The wings are covered with powdered pigment.

The assemblages and broom paintings allowed me to meditate on and explore perplexing topics such as the afterlife, dream states, sex, power and the aging process. I tried to get as close to the mystery as I could by combining found and transformed objects, perceptual work and purely imaginative painting and drawing.

Cathy Deuschle

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