the back room of Olson-Larsen
Galleries, I caught Steve Gerberich
openly fondling some of John Beckelman's
vases. I understood the mechanical
sculptor's indiscretion because
I had succumbed to the same temptation,
although at least I made sure
that no one was watching. Gerberich
"You can't not hold them;
they demand it," he says.
"Yes, it's a pity that a
gallery setting restricts such
instincts. I make them to be touched."
The Coe College professor tells
me he is obsessed with "the
elemental character of clay -
in all its physical states."
That's as basic as the creative
instinct, but what differentiates
Beckelman from other ceramic artists
in Iowa is the same thing that
makes his art so palpable. Namely,
he goes to extremes to simulate
relics: throwing his clay on a
potter's wheel, manipulating it
ferociously, and firing it at
2,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a
residual salt atmosphere. You
could do pretty much the same
thing by sitting under an erupting
seaside volcano and then airing
out for 1,000 years. He also told
me he was working with clay painting,
a process in which he applies
unfired clay to canvas. Gallery
owner Marlene Olson promised to
let him bring some "the next
Appropriately, Beckelman's props
from "The Last Days of Pompeii"
share that back gallery with new
paintings of Jan Zelfer-Redmond.
Her work seems even more antiquarian,
evoking Paleolithic cave paintings
crossed with the bush paintings
of the San tribesmen. The Sioux
City abstract-expressionist blends
rich sun colors, layers on textures
and then scratches over them with
primitive lines. She says these
are used to suggest significance
to the greater purpose of getting
your attention. Her real message
is our "need for spirituality
and intuition." We'd rather
consume our spirituality with
more subtlety. But even churches
are buying TV ads these days,
so Zelfer-Redmond is probably
on to something.
The star of this show is Sharon
Booma. By most measures of public
interest, the abstractionist is
the star of the entire gallery.
She is the first artist hot enough
for Olson-Larsen to take out a
full-page ad in "Art in America."
And I sort of see why. Booma's
canvasses are busy and detailed
enough to never get boring, and
her palette is versatile and pleasant
enough to party with most interior
decorators. She continues her
trusty style, overlapping geometric
shapes and layering on texture
with rich colors and bits of handmade
paper. Most of these new paintings
are meant to be emotive. Even
the titles are moody: "Some
Kind of Solace," "Ride
the Breeze," "Talk of
In "An Afternoon Alone,"
the artist moves dramatically
toward narrative by tossing a
vague human shape amid a multiple
series of glazed-over windows.
Mud colors gobble up those that
flirt so well with sunlight. A
two painting series called "Stowed
Away" also tempts us with
conflicting moods and darker possibilities.
Beckelman, Zelfer-Redmond and
Booma's new works will be shown
through Nov. 19.
Two Rivers Art Expo returns downtown,
to a new home in Hy-Vee Hall,
Nov. 12-13. Metro Arts Alliance's
18th annual fund raiser will include
150 artists, with juried awards
in a dozen artistic media... Karolyn
Sherwood Gallery debuts Karen
Strohbeen and Bill Luchsinger's
new holiday show on Nov. 17, with
a new Strohbeen bird series and
southwestern themes promised...
Moberg Gallery's holiday show
runs through Jan. 7, with an artists'
reception Nov. 11. T.J. Moberg
built a giant mechanical piece
of found art that mixes decomposing
food with microchips and several
generations of electronic hardware.
J.D. Griggs, E.J. Wickes, John
Paul Davis, Frank Hansen, Shawn
Wolter, Chris Vance and Alan Weinstein
all show new paintings... 2AU
is setting stones for their holiday
show, with new takes on sliced
emeralds and drusy black psilomene,
a stunning black stone with quartz
crystals that plays magic tricks
with the old "lump of coal
for Christmas" joke... St.
John's Lutheran Church is showing
work by inmates from the Iowa
Correctional Institution for Women,
through Dec. 1... Kristi Lund
Lozier's paintings will be shown
at Tandem Brick Gallery through
Nov. 30. CV
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