Monday, January 24, 2022

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Art News

Nature good, humanity less so


“First Stage of Cruelty,” from “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” (1751) by William Hogarth (British, 1697–1764) is 14-by-11 5/8 inches engraving on paper in the Des Moines Art Center’s Permanent Collections. Photo by Rich Sanders

“First Stage of Cruelty,” from “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” (1751) by William Hogarth (British, 1697–1764) is 14-by-11 5/8 inches engraving on paper in the Des Moines Art Center’s Permanent Collections. Photo by Rich Sanders

Picasso remarked that artists are children who never grow up. Perhaps that explains why the art world’s calendars begin in September. For whatever reason, this month brings a bounty of brilliant new shows to Des Moines, several of which carry very similar themes.

At Moberg Gallery, Larassa Kabel displays new editions to her wild horses series. The super realist painter/drawer depicts horses precariously tossed in the air. She has several small drawings in this show, but the series is dominated by very large works that demonstrate the unbearable lightness of thousand-pound creatures which probably trust too much in an environment made dangerous by human intervention. Because Kabel’s horses require months to groom and usually sell as fast as she can finish them, the gallery asked her to act as curator for a show of other Iowa artists’ whose works relate to hers.

Jessica Teckemeyer displays realistic sculptures of animals set in precarious and ironic positions. Kathranne Knight draws trees in such intricate detail that one’s point of view can lose the forests for the trees, or vice versa. Guy Loraine’s art does similar things with nuts rather than forests. His detailed photos of acorns appear to be sexually evocative portals to mysterious places. The opening of this show was one of the best-attended gallery events I’ve ever seen in Des Moines. It runs through Oct. 19.

An exhibition of new works at Olson-Larsen Galleries seemed like an extension of the shows at Moberg. Lee Emma Running is a disciple of Timothy Barrett, the paper art guru at the University of Iowa’s renowned Center for the Book. Her “Pare” is a 220-square-foot 3-D work of digital print, vinyl and red satin that duplicates the leaf gouging habits of Japanese beetles. It warns about environmental vulnerability while appreciating the beauty of nature’s destructive instincts. Tim Frerichs also features the botanical world in his new works, digital prints and collages, many made on Japanese paper, that explore rural fields of northeast Iowa. Gary Olson’s new assembled boxes feature dominos, chalk and darts built to resemble things much different from the sum of their many parts. This show closes on Oct. 5.


Two new exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center continue that museum’s ongoing exploration of British art while contrasting nature with human nature. “Wild Kingdom: Prints of Britain” features 300 years of works on paper that contrast visions of a benign and beautiful natural world with cynical observations of more urgent and horrific human impulses. The all-star roster includes Henry Adlard, Thomas Allom, Robert Austin, J. Bakewell, William Blake, Carington Bowles, Leonora Carrington, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Richard Corbould, Alan Davie, Richard Deacon, Lucian Freud, James Gillray, John Gould, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, William Hogarth, Gary Hume, Allen Jones, Anish Kapoor, Edith Lawrence, Chris Ofili, William Strang, and Joseph Mallord William Turner. It will be shown through Jan. 5.

Richard T. Walker’s “Let This Be Us” (2012) is part of the Art Center’s 2013 single-channel series “Gravitas.” Walker’s works also reveal a frustrated relationship with landscape while exploring the complexity of human relations. It’s been called a modern take on the classic romantic figure contemplating the awe-inspiring mysteries of an impersonal natural world. It will be shown through Nov. 17. A gallery talk on Sept. 19 and a lecture on Oct. 3 will be featured.

Touts The Des Moines Art Center hosts the Manhattan Short Film Festival on three different days this year: Sept. 27 and 29 plus Oct. 4. Each screening includes all 10 finalists and is free but intended for adult audiences. Reservations are highly recommended: or 271-0313… A new show at Drake’s Anderson Gallery explores the art of record album covers. It’s guaranteed to inspire the nostalgia glands of anyone born before the CD era. 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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