Thursday, November 23, 2017

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Art is busting out all over

11/1/2017

Eclipse studies by Scott Charles Ross at Moberg Gallery.

Art is busting out all over in Des Moines. As reported last month, the Des Moines Art Center’s new “Drawing in Space” show drew its largest opening crowds since Duane Hanson showed here in 1977. More recently, Moberg Gallery experienced its biggest turnout for an opening with Sarah Grant and Scott Charles Ross being paired in their first-ever show at that gallery. Lots of red spot (sold) tags appeared. I have only seen parking lots so filled with so many luxury cars at charity events at country clubs.

These two artists are obviously quite popular. Grant has probably tutored more artists than anyone else around. She taught at Iowa State and mentored an entire movement of artists at Sticks, the arty furniture company she founded and managed until a few years ago. Sticks is an international phenom, and Grant’s distinctive design work is its signature.

Her painting has been an emotional record of her struggles. Sometimes desperate, sometimes jubilant, the consistent factor in her works has always been beauty. Her new work at Moberg is bigger than anything I remember in the past, not counting the bridge she designed for Grand Rapids, Michigan. Working big seems as liberating as giving up the management of her business. Grant fills the additional spaces with movement and beauty. She is also allowing more narrative to appear. The abstract colorist even painted an Italian beach scene for this show.

Ross also is painting large and letting his travels influence his subjects. He uses layers of oil, charcoal, wax and glaze to develop a rare and pleasant texture. Orbs are particularly of interest in the new show, with a series of reflections upon eclipses starring. This show will play through most of November.

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In Valley Junction, three artists of utterly different style are matched in a show through Nov. 25. Sharon Booma is another abstract painter who flirts a bit with narrative as well as non-narrative subjects. As usual, she lets bright colors invade larger more washed out colors, giving her art a precarious sense of endangerment. Gary Olson shows his intricate small sculptures of thin wire and found objects. Yun Shin, also on display at the Des Moines Art Center, demonstrates even more intricate drawings, almost all white, that emulate both needlework and calligraphy.

Mainframe Studios opened with some 75 creative tenants representing more than 20 art disciplines. These affordable artist studios in the former CenturyLink facility on Keosaqua Way are extremely popular. The space will also host bigger events and has a resident caterer in Tangerine.

Des Moines Makerspace also hosted its first open house. This is a non-profit community of makers, artists and hobbyists. Its shared workspace offers tools, technology and resources to improve one’s skills. Beginners and experts are both welcome at 1731 Grand Ave. An Electronic Night series, beginning on Nov. 8, will review an electricity or electronics related topic or theme each month. A circuit board workshop will be held Nov. 20. Robots, lighting projects, smart homes, Halloween costumes, safety, tools and more are other possible subjects.

Moberg and Heritage Gallery will co-host a Veterans Day weekend event, “Worth Fighting For” with art by veterans who all happen to be superb artists — Andrew Abbott, Mike Amundson, Jim Engler, Tom Moberg, Jim Ochs and Bart Vargas.

“Single-channel 7: Journeys Into Peripheral Worlds by Alex Prager / La Petite Mort” debuted in the Des Moines Art Center’s Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey Gallery. It will play through Jan. 7. ♦

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