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Art News

‘The New Fangled Mirth of Spring’


Tilly Woodward’s “Double Ball” is oil on archival mat board, 11 x 9 inches at Olson-Larsen Galleries.

Tilly Woodward’s “Double Ball” is oil on archival mat board, 11 x 9 inches at Olson-Larsen Galleries.

After a longer-than-usual winter, Shakespeare’s “new fangled mirth of spring” will be appropriately celebrated around central Iowa’s art scene. For the first time, Des Moines Art Center’s (DMAC) Iowa Artists’ Exhibition will include theatrics — three productions, in three different DMAC venues, of the Bard of Avon’s “Love’s Labours Lost” (April 26 – 28) by The Foss Projects. This same troupe’s “A Hamlet Behind the Burger King in Ames” last year turned Shakespeare’s tale of woe amongst Denmark’s most dysfunctional family into an evening of humor and delight. Imagining what this creative Iowa State University-based group does with genuine farce makes me giddy as one of the characters from the comedy. Also in the Iowa Artists’ show, Kathranne Knight’s bright works on paper explore the horizon line as both a pictorial device and a psychological space (through July 28 with an artist’s talk on April 19).

The DMAC is also now displaying its prized new acquisition, Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds,” in the lower level of the Meire wing. That pile of hand-painted porcelain beads derives from a legendary 2010 exhibition of 100 million such seeds at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London. That show was considered a seminal statement on mass consumption and famine. Weiwei is sometimes considered “the new Andy Warhol” because of his mastery of many different, pop media. An outspoken critic of the Chinese government, he was runner-up for Time magazine’s Person of the Year award in 2011. His latest headline-maker is a cover of “Gangnam Style,” an international phenomenon by South Korean rapper PSY. Weiwei’s four-minute-long parody on YouTube criticizes the Chinese government’s attempt to silence his activism.                  

In the spirit of the season, Olson-Larsen Galleries’ new show (through June 1) features Tilly Woodward who presents super realist paintings of springtime icons such as baseballs, eggs and nests. In the same show, Sarah Grant brings works titled “The Promise of Spring” and “Ice Going Out” while Scott Ross exhibits his trademark geometric abstractions. Chris Vance, Iowa’s most collected young artist and likely its most mirthful, too, opened his seventh annual spring exhibition at Moberg Gallery (through May 18). Expanding on his usual cast of street characters and children’s fantasies, Vance built murals out of individual pieces and also offered several that stood alone. He commences soon on a giant, singular mural in East Village, a three-story building that should bring some mirth to all seasons there.

The Anderson Gallery at Drake University is hosting an exhibition, “Proximity,” that features four graduating seniors in the springtime of their careers — Meanz Chan, Aron Johnston, Cecily Pincsak and Hannah Pink (through April 28). Recently at the Anderson, Lauren Oliver won the Provost Purchase Award for “Prurock,” her intaglio deconstruction of an old Singer sewing machine, Padraic O’Connell’s house-paint canvas of garbage in a coral reef won the Juror’s Choice Award for painting, while Katlynn Sammons won for sculpture with a construction assimilating furniture with Styrofoam, paper and video projection.



Grinnell’s Faulconer Gallery is exhibiting “Animals Among Us,” which studies the intermingled destinies of humans and other animals… Steven Vail Fine Arts began appraisal and consignment services for prints and works on paper (309-2763)… Iowa artists are invited to submit to the second annual “Celebration of Iowa: Agricultural Art Award” sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and Iowa Farm Bureau. The theme this year is “Cultivating Change.” Youth first prize is $1,000, for adults it’s $1,500 (515-281-3858). CV

Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.

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