November 18, 2012

Road Trip: The Indy Art Scene

Quoting from a recent article in the Nashville Scene on the state of the arts in Nashville: As for the upside, Callaway put it best: "Say Nashville to someone, and an image pops into their head. Sure, that image may be dead-wrong, but at least we have a cultural stereotype! Indianapolis can't say that." 

Personally when someone says Nashville I have an image of the time I ran into Whole Foods to grab a vegan almond cookie to eat on my flight back to LA and I saw Keith Urban standing in line with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. Is that dead-wrong? I think not. 

So in an effort to see if Indianapolis actually had a cultural stereotype other than being the middle finger of the South, and because I'm desperate to see paintings that don't look like they were voted best of anything or some other hyped-up superlative, I did a quick road trip up to Indy to catch a few painting shows.

First up was Kyle Ragsdale's solo show, Tableaux at Harrison Art Center where for the most part, figures appear to be participating in some sort of mysteriously staged production amidst a bucolic landscape. The sheer volume of paintings in Ragsdale's show was a reminder that alla prima is alive and well.

Kyle Ragsdale, Herron Morton Woodpile

Kyle Ragsdale, Here, But Not Here.

Kyle Ragsdale, Stick Pile

Kyle Ragsdale, Oxbow Chair

I was slightly less enthusiastic standing in front of Elise Schweitzer's large-scale figurative work, Centaurs and Belly Dancers at Gallery 924 at the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The respectable but predicable brushwork was evident throughout the show, but as a whole didn't engage me over the long haul. Still, the fact it was painting hanging in a contemporary art space, easy to get to and open to the public was a plus.
 Elise Schweitzer

On the way to our final destination, I was introduced to Casey Roberts of Mt. Comfort Gallery and Rachel Ritchford's show Future Days, a series of medium cool, tie-dye hued paintings of landscapes suspended in a geo-abstract trance. Elegant and trippy with enough cerebral signifiers to remind me I was only 3 hours from Chicago where Ritchford received her MFA from SAIC*.  According to the text for the exhibition, which shares its title with spacey krautrock band Can's album Future Days, the work "examines the phenomenon of geometric abstraction as a metaphorical interpretation of psychedelic and entheogenic experiences."

Rachel Ritchford, Untitled, 35" x 44"

Bonus track was getting a sneak peak into Casey's studio and seeing some of his fantastical cyanotype landscapes which I could barely peel my eyes away from...
Casey Robert's, Twin Lakes, cyanotype drawing, 42" x 52"

...And which I will segue into our last stop- Carla Knopp's equally fantastical landscape show, Kinkade Meets Turner Paints Sci-fi With Fanbrush at Dewclaw. Knopp uses the same alla prima method of wet-in-wet as Ragsdale, and infuses her usually muted palette with high-keyed transparent hues that at times border dive off the cliff fittingly into saccharine. Using the uncharted territory as a metaphorical search for new meaning, Knopp's exploratory landscapes deliver as the show title promises- a mash-up of Kinkadean kitsch channeled through Turner with fanbrush after racking up some serious hours on the Sci-fi channel. The result is a glimpse into a humorous, yet disquieting realm. Knopp and Roberts recently showed together in the Tenses of Landscape show at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Gallery.

Carla Knopp, Leviathan

Carla Knopp, Cyclops

Carla Knopp, First Thought of the Day

Carla Knopp, Four and a Half Worlds

*[Note: The editor spent the 90's in Chicago at the perennial deathbed of painting.]

[Note: the editor has no affiliation with the state of Indiana, any of it's inhabitants nor even a soft spot in her heart for it, but at 45 mpg, she's developing a wanderlust to see what's happening with painting within a few hours drive. If you'd like to promote some shows in a nearby city with or without a cultural stereotype, email me at maraddhac [at]  gmail {dot} com.]

1 comment :

Carla said...

I'm so proud of our lack of a cultural stereotype, I could burst.

I love your swoop-in-and-review pace of this. It's not a bad idea, the traveling critic. You could do Atlanta, Louisville, St. Louis, etc. You just need a catchy moniker, and you're ready to go. Thanks for visiting, and especially for your thoughtful remarks.