Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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Dreamy textures and covered bridges


What a season it’s been. In one month’s time, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. In the spirit of unbelievable times, let’s move over to the edge of the tree limb and predict TV stardom for what is now a YouTube show called “The Art Hunter” with Liz Lidgett. sarah-grant-all-saints-day-60x60-acrylic-on-canvas

Reality TV is a baffling field of dreams. It defines the phrase “watching ironically.” Chicago’s Todd Carmichael has a show called “Dangerous Grounds” that I watch religiously and ironically. He pursues coffee contracts in dangerous places ruled by drug cartels and ISIS-related governments. I cannot help thinking about Carmichael when I watch Lidgett’s show. Narration is similar, except Lidgett does her hunting on a computer keyboard with the same drama Carmichael takes to the Columbian jungles. She produces printout photos for clients in an age when everyone else would just show high definition photos on their phone or computer. But this show has something special going for it. Lidgett reminds me of a young Meredith Baer, a former Des Moines Roosevelt homecoming-queen-turned-reality-star on Home & Garden TV. Both can sell anything into high drama. Baer has 100 employees and clients that include Bob Dylan and Brad Pitt. Lidgett’s show has Better Homes & Garden behind it and could briefly become the first Des Moines-based TV show before it moves to Beverly Hills. This would be huge for local artists.

December brings new shows to town at both the Moberg and Olson-Larsen galleries. The latter features Dan Mason, a Minneapolis-based painter who turns landscapes into dream-like visitations in a better universe. Most of his paintings are on linen, a fabric that contributes a dreamy texture to the works. Landscapes that look like Italian towns seem like new ways of looking at sacred sites, temple precincts, city squares and landscape vistas. According to the galleries’ artist statement, he simplifies “landscape and architectural elements to express an underlying geometry and sense of order. The overall effect of Mason’s compositions is one of harmony and serenity.” He calls his works “colorist paintings, because the role of color as a subject in itself is important in this work.”

He is paired in this exhibition with newcomer Justin Rogers. Rogers is a photographer whose high definition works also capture elements of dreamland. Barns, sculptures, cornfields, cityscapes and covered bridges are usually accompanied by dramatic weather or sunsets.

Moberg’s new show introduces new artists and brings new works from several familiar ones. Sarah Grant makes her debut at Moberg after years with Olson-Larsen. Her work is more realistic and less abstract. Wendell Arneson of Minnesota also joins the gallery lineup after retiring from St. Olaf College. He paints in oil, acrylic and watercolor, and draws. Abstract painter Julia Katz from Chicago is also a debutante to Des Moines. So are Ukrainian Igor Khalandovskiy, who paints fantasy world landscapes; Peorians Doug & Eileen Leunig, who have made a reputation with world wide photos of dogs; and former Des Moines artist Jonathan Pearson, who studies the figure through multiple media. Coloradan Conn Ryder also debuts with abstract work that reminds one of Sarah Grant a decade ago.

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Grand View graduate Mary Jones will show work inspired by East 14th Street in Des Moines, north to south. Gallery stalwart Larassa Kabel will display new drawings, and Richard Kelley brings new paintings from his unique world. Mathew Kluber, whose video art has graced Ingersoll for several months, will bring a new painting plus projection and teasers for a new Ingersoll Projection.

Leslie Bell, Derrick Breidenthal, Catherine Dreiss, Fred Easker, Bev Gegen, Tom Moberg, Dan Perry, Jesse Small, Senid Tabakovic, Madai Taylor, Chris Vance and Jordan Weber also will show new works this month.  ♦


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