August celebrates the Iowa artist8/2/2017
“Shouldn’t Iowa be the subject of a show at the Iowa State Fair?” asked my granddaughter while looking at travel photographs from Spain, Mexico, Santa Fe and Eastern Europe. It’s a most debatable question. Bill Woolston, a University of Idaho professor emeritus, presented an exhibition at the Fair in 2014 that was much more to my granddaughter’s liking. It featured black and white shots of state and county fairs in Iowa half a century ago.
Now that almost everyone is walking around with a camera in their pocket, is almost everyone a photojournalist? That’s what makes the photography show my favorite part of the Fair that cannot be consumed on a bun.
If the Fair art show isn’t Iowa enough for your taste, Olson Larsen Galleries, as usual, reserves summer for exhibitions rife with Iowa subjects. Opening Aug. 4, their latest three-person show features two artists who are very much into Iowana.
Justin Rogers is a Fort Dodge native who glorifies the beauty of Iowa, both urban and rural, in photo prints. A self-employed web designer in West Des Moines, Rogers has the flexibility to “chase the light” that he believes, like Monet chasing haystacks before him, makes or breaks a piece of art.
“It’s all about chasing the light,” says Rogers. “You could sit in one spot all day long and capture entirely different moods of the same scene due to the constantly changing light.”
Only five years into a professional career in photography, he has mastered the craft of making the commonplace breathtaking. Some of these photos (“Milky Way Windmills” and “Cornfield Sunset”) could be mistaken for Christian art. Grateful to a friend who inspired him to take photography serious, Rogers is now a familiar photo workshop teacher in the Des Moines area.
Brian Roberts is a Central College professor whose stoneware sculptures are inspired by his agricultural background of managing a family farm for many years. He references the familiar architectural icons of the farm — silos, grain elevators, barns and sheds.
“Most of these buildings are in essence, vessels for containment. I am drawn to the purity of the geometric forms of these buildings and to the visual complexity of their weathered surfaces,” he writes.
Oxidation, a process that redefines the aesthetics of most farm structures, is a big part of his sculptural method. Some of these pieces seem to be personified, such as “Extended Family.”
Painter Stephen Metcalf completes this show. His non-objective art is a reverse course he determined after he realized his drafting skills came too close to mimicking photography. He moved toward art and printmaking after that to avoid tedium and predictability. He believes that his work is all about the act of painting. He has been successful since his student days at the University of Illinois with shows at the University of Minnesota Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. They are vertical representations of color spectrums.
“My paintings, which are non-objective, have influences in the environment. As a painter, my journey is one of discovery through the exploration of ideas, materials and process. My techniques, which are my own, were not learned or invented in order to paint but were discovered through the act of painting. Each painting is a record of my journey, and I invite you to engage in your own personal dialogue with them,” he writes.
Debuting Aug. 25, this year’s Iowa Artists Show at the Des Moines Art Center is a one-person show with Yun Shin. Her minimalist grid drawings are meticulously personalized by repetitive representations of her father’s signature in calligraphy and her mother’s knitting stiches. … Steven Vail Fine Arts of Des Moines was selected by Dennis Oppenheim Estate to handle their appraisals. That’s a huge honor.♦