Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Art of winter


Mary Jones – “I Remember Everything” – mixed media collage 3’ x 18’

Moberg Gallery’s 15th anniversary group show is up through Feb. 23 with an eclectic display of the gallery’s versatility and growth. When the gallery opened 15 years ago, it represented four artists, including owner TJ Moberg and his father Tom and two of their friends. Today they represent 60 and sell work for 100 others, from all over the world.

The two Mobergs are the only originally artists represented, with what has become their signature styles. “May life throw you a pleasant curve,” is TJ’s latest latex work. He often works with dried pieces of latex paint, the stuff most of us don’t know how to properly dispose. The bright pieces become a collage of greens, blues, peaches, mauves and reds. The show’s catalogue, written by Michaela Mullin, calls this a “circular loci.” Tom’s plaster art contribution to the show is called “New Directions,” which might be ironic since he has mastered this rare art form for decades.

Sarah Grant and Scott Charles Ross have been exhibiting together since they moved to Moberg from Olson Larsen Galleries. Both have pieces in the show that suggest why; they are large paintings, bigger than what they used to show. Grant’s triptych, “Sail Away Seasons,” seems happier than much of her earlier work. Ross’ “Tintagel” is the latest from his series of seaside cliffs of Cornwall.

Also well-coupled in the show are husband and wife Catherine Dreiss and Jeffrey Thompson. Dreiss’ woodcut, “Daphne,” is a sexy portrait. Thompson’s untitled diptych of lilies is equally sensual.

Prep Iowa

The minister Madai Taylor brings an earthy example of his signature work in mined dirts, gypsum and whatever else he might find digging with his hands. As always, his textures are stunning, and his work is religious — dust to dust with added water, or mud to mud. Also working with mined clay of the earth is Annick Ibsen. Her sculpture “Falling out of Grace” is a large multi-clays piece that Mullin calls “cubist.”  Her smaller works, such as “Closet Love” and “Collapse,” are monochromatic. Her “Iowa” and “Orchid” use multiple clays to suggest the flora and fauna of Iowa.

My favorite artist in the show is Chicago’s Mary Jones. Her “I Remember Everything” occupies its own three-walled niche in the gallery. That’s fitting for such a busy representation of urban life and its violent drama. Mullin says that the narrative is attained by walking the streets, and surrounding the viewer with these images tries to emulate that experience. Similar in busy narrative is New Yorker Andrew Abbott’s three painting of dreams, or nightmares. 

The most famous artist in the show is China’s Lianje Zheng. His ink and acrylic work “Fantastic Moon Shadow No 1” is a fine example of how he meshes traditional Chinese ink drawing and calligraphy with a Rorschach test of colors that are open to both realist and abstract interpretations.

“NYC Bouquets 2” by Thomas C. Jackson is an explosion of color by a master painter. Kenneth Hall’s oil “Just Not in the Mood” is a wildly ambivalent and visually stunning addition to the gallery. 

That’s less than half the artists in the show. In the spirit of awards season, I ran out of time.


The Des Moines Art Center’s new show, premiering after our press time, is Susan Collis’ “Without You the World Goes On.” This is the first-ever American museum show for the Scottish artist known for crafting ordinary-looking, everyday objects from valuable materials. ♦

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