A lot of good new shows11/2/2016
Gallery Night this fall drew big crowds. Most people credited the marvelous weather, but top-notch shows had something to do with it, too. Artisan Gallery 218 assembled a busy show that covered a range of media. John Evans is showing landscape pastels, Elizabeth Rhoads Read brings some interest paper sculptures. Annick Ibsen exhibits her signature ceramic sculptures. Mary Kline-Misol shows her inimitable large paintings of innocent birds in eerie woods, a perfect Halloween season show. She also exhibits some glicee works that are much softer in spirit. Tom Whally brings some amazing pieces of turned wood, including one bowl made with 5,000 different pieces of wood.
Hilde DeBruyne shows her sculptures. Amy Witt brings some mixed media transfer prints. Victoria Herring shows some prints from her travels in North Africa. Jacqueline Stoken shows some from her trips through the American west. Jewelry, scarves, quilts, dolls and candles are also represented in this versatile show.
Olson-Larsen Galleries’ new show by contrast focuses on just two artists. They are two of the state’s most talented younger artists. Grinnell College professor Lee Emma Running explains her work in her artist’s statement. “Everything I create investigates the beauty and complexity of natural phenomena. I use the simple tools of projection, tracing, stenciling and cutting to identify and expand characteristics of biological ephemera. I utilize both close handwork and digital manipulation to inspect found detritus like a twist of animal hair, a network of leaf veins or a cluster of roots. Transforming the scale of these bits of nature reveals their intricate networks and identifies the universal nature inherent within them.”
That’s academic speak for doing cool things with stuff that most people either ignore or take for granted. One part of her exhibition is of bone art. Running scours the ditches, creek beds, woods and cornfields of central Iowa, a neighborhood that is home to 400,000 deer, according to the artist. She picks up incomplete skeletons that have been gnawed to the bone by vultures and insects and polishes them to a porcelain shine and engraves an image of a lacy network onto their surfaces. She carves them, removes their marrow and gilds their internal chambers.
She also shows some of her homemade paper art, with coyote hides and automotive paint. The third part of her show includes self-portrait prints in pastoral environs. They have a Stephanie Brunia-like quality of innocence in peril.
Iowa State professor Brent Holland has built a considerable reputation doing super realistic, psychologically revealing self-portraits. He brings one of those to this new show along with an intriguing portrait of a tattooed woman with a butterfly. He focuses more on a new direction — multidimensional abstractions created of digital prints and thousands of layered drawings with resin ink. He calls these “meditations upon time, space and my sphere of existence.”
Moberg Gallery’s annual Bill Luchsinger and Karen Strohbeen show is combined this year with a “Printober” exhibition of 23 Midwest artists, many not seen before in Des Moines. To showcase the diversity of contemporary printmaking, it includes traditional etchings, lithographs, screen prints and relief prints, as well as digital prints and immersive installations. Luchsinger and Strohbeen’s show this year includes more glimpses of the natural world and fewer of the one man made.
Sarah Grant is moving from Olson-Larsen to Moberg Gallery. She will have her first show at her new gallery in early December… Des Moines’ Shakespeare Experience artistic director Lorenzo Sandoval picked up a couple top honors. Cambridge University Press of England named him one of the top five adapters of the bard in the world, from 300 submissions. He won for his “Romeo and Juliet — Thrice Told Tale.” He also won an international Dmitri Fellowship, which he will use this January-May while in residence at Morningside University in Sioux City. ♦