Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Art and tomato soup, part 2


Chris Dahlquist, “Becoming Frost, 1/1. Photograph, archival pigment ink, cold wax, washi paper, rag paper. 33 by 33 inches.

In October, British green anarchists attacked Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” with cans of tomato soup. Others glued themselves to Van Gogh’s “Peach Trees in Blossom.” Their motivation? “Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup.” 

Art seems safe from such senseless sensibilities in Des Moines. Olson-Larsen Galleries is celebrating their temporary downsizing with a rare one-person show. The gallery, upstairs at 120 Fifth St. in Valley Junction while their main store is being fitted for a new roof, is featuring Kansas City’s Chris Dahlquist on the walls with projection-mapping on the windows by Zauven. Dahlquist is a photo-based artist whose mixed media landscapes pay homage to the wonder of clouds, forests and lakes. Green anarchists don’t hate those things. The Zauven team lights up the gallery’s windows for a dark season light show on Fifth Street. 

Dahlquist, who has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, is committed to the accessibility of art and to empowering artists to become sustainable. She has worked with hundreds of individual artists to develop strategies and business skills to support their practices. She believes the artist must be at the center of a strong arts ecosystem. Dahlquist worked with the Kansas City Economic Development Council and AltCap: Alternative Capital for Community Impact to launch the first artist-centered microlending program in the country. 

At the Des Moines Art Center, Alison Elizabeth Taylor treats the centuries-old practice of marquetry (wood inlay) with provocative subject matter that is far more modern than the medium. Her exhibition, “Alison Elizabeth Taylor: The Sum of It,” is the most comprehensive gathering of her work to date, assembling dozens of works that chronicle her development of the now nearly forgotten techniques of marquetry. 

Chris Dahlquist, “Waiting the River,” 1/1. Photograph, archival pigment ink, cold wax, washi paper, rag paper. 33 by 33 inches.

The show consists of some 40 large-scale single panel works, as well as a room-sized installation. These trace the evolution of the artist’s practice, from early paintings informed by the grains and tones of natural woods to more vividly colored works that layer marquetry, paint and photographic imagery, to new and increasingly complex works inspired by the resilience of the artist’s urban Brooklyn neighborhood during the pandemic. As the museum’s literature explains, “In our current moment of social and political upheaval, Taylor’s innovative work begs the age-old questions: what is painting, what is America, and who are we?” Through Jan. 15.

At Moberg Gallery, Barcelona artist Ruben Sanchez’s first solo show in the U.S., “Human Nature,” brings a body of work where post-cubism flirts with abstraction and where color creates a dialogue with black and white. As gallery archivist Michaela Mullin says, “These paintings, that sometimes act as mirrors, create a colorful therapy, filling the gallery with questions that ask us to think about the mysteries of our mind, the most powerful tool we have. This exhibit also wants to remind us that happiness can be found in the small everyday details rather than where we place unrealistic expectations and goals.”

Sanchez comes from the worlds of graffiti and skateboarding so green art haters should give him a pass. His painting palette evokes vivacious living, his sculptures are rounded in striking monochrome, and his black and white works are “contemporary cubist tableaus.” Through Dec. 5. 

Holiday road trips

David Hockney’s “The Arrival of Spring; Normandy 2020” plays at the Chicago Museum of Art through Jan. 9. “Botticelli and Renaissance: Masterworks from the Uffizi” will be up at the Minneapolis Institute of Art through Jan. 8. “American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939” dazzles Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins Museum through Jan. 8. There will be an Art Deco Gala Ball on Nov. 12. Omaha’s Joslyn Museum will be closed till 2024 for remodeling. ♦

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