By Jim Duncan
Tony Feher (American, born 1956), “It Seemed
a Beautiful Day,” 2002, 48 x 23 x 23 inches,
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Purchased
through In/Site Fund and the James Wilson Trust
in memory of Michael Moran
Des Moines Art Center’s “Tony Feher” retrospective
stretches the museum in more ways than one.
“Tony’s done 160 exhibitions since the early
1990s, mostly in site-specific venues. I don’t
think anyone has ever attempted a retrospective
of that sort of thing. And of all the places
this show is traveling, Des Moines is special
because we were able to invade the permanent
collections. So look for the show in the Pei
and Meire wings as well as in its own gallery,”
explained curator Claudia Schmuckli, from Houston’s
Feher, like his art, defies expectations.
“I was a struggling painter until one day I
saw some marbles in the window of a toy store,
with the light hitting them in just the right
way. I bought them and put them in jars,” he
explained of his style’s origin. One thing led
Because AIDS was taking so many lives unexpectedly,
he began putting things in jars that served
as memorials. Soon his jars were being exhibited
and described as modern reliquaries of collective
memory. Jars led to plastic bottles, which he
hung in trees high enough so that his art could
not by slam-dunked by locals.
“I was drawing with rows of bottles,” he explained.
He’s now “drawn” on some famous museums, discovered
all kinds of unorthodox art materials, and installed
living art (apple trees) in the courtyard of
the city of Rockford, Ill. Tony Feher plays
through Sept. 2.
Des Moines poet Mia L. Farrell published “Perverse
Moments,” an adult coloring book that graphically
and hilariously defines 40 or so fetishes and
paraphilia, a.k.a. sexual perversions. Her inspiration
was the Garbage Pail Kids of the 1980s.
“I loved their irreverent combination of two
of my favorite qualities: huggable, wholesome
cuteness and blatant, uncensored hard core,
vomit-inducing grossness. It made for such a
beautiful thing,” she explained.
Farrell thought it was time to inject sex into
a similar Hegelian dialectic.
“So with the extreme wealth of sexual knowledge
available on the Internet, I set out to draw
page after page of the cutest, kinkiest cartoons.”
She succeeded. Her first printing sold out quickly
and at least one big time distributor is interested.
She says it’s about education.
“If something makes us too uncomfortable to
find humor in it, then we’re choosing to remain
too afraid to ever understand it.”
Some sad news
Former University of Iowa art school icons
Mauricio Lasansky and Elizabeth Catlett died
in April, just days apart from each other, and
each just weeks one side or the other from their
“Exposition Henry Moore,” currently at Steven
Vail Fine Arts, includes lithographs, etchings
and mixed media works relating to the artist’s
iconic “Mother and Child” and “Reclining Figures”
series. A collaboration with Osborne Samuel
of London, it’s the first exhibition of its
kind in the United States. The works span 1963-1983,
demonstrating a range of Moore’s working styles.
The exhibition plays through July 20. … Frank
Hansen’s first local exhibition in two years
debuts May 18 at Moberg Gallery. Hansen’s often-autobiographical
explorations of Iowa’s past and present always
bring out one of the year’s wilder gallery gatherings…
Chris Vance has been Des Moines’ most collected
painter for a while but his latest show at Moberg
set new sales records. Paintings sold so briskly
that the entire show had to be re-hung with
new works before it was over… “All Fired Up
- Works in Clay” at Polk County Heritage Gallery
presents a veritable student all-star show from
RDG Dahlquist Art Studio, through June 7. CV