by Liberty Finch
Flanders Art Gallery recently moved from downtown Minneapolis to a beautiful new space at 3012 Lyndale Avenue South. The new venue is more than 5,000 square feet, with two-story ceilings and a welcoming front courtyard. The current exhibit features recent work by Robert Natkin, Donald Woodman and Judy Chicago.
Robert Natkin has been painting for more than 50 years. His acrylic work combines
color, shape and texture, creating intimate and powerful images that challenge
the viewer to look beyond what at first glance appears serene or lighthearted.
Natkin's work requires contemplation and can be demanding of the viewer. Rich
colors saturate the canvas, linear shapes and abstract forms interact. Spend some
time with these paintings, and you begin to feel their kinetic energy. As a painter,
Natkin has compared himself to a sweatshop seamstress, and in fact the work does
feel tactile. Paint is "sewn" together, lending texture and adding depth to each
The photography of Donald Woodman is also on display. Woodman's Rodeo and the
West are large-scale (43” x 51”), black and white images that were taken at
small town rodeos from New Mexico to South Dakota. They offer an unpretentious
look at the often-romanticized west; a more honest rendering of what has become
a highly commercialized sport. The shots were taken with a 100-year-old Brownie
Style box camera, and the effect lends itself perfectly to the rough and tumble
world of rodeo. Gritty black and white images reflect the toughness of the subjects, and diagonal framing adds movement and flair. In fact, the way the series is displayed reminded me
of pages from a giant children’s flip book. Scan the wall quickly and you just
might see a cowboy fling his arm high in the air as his bucking bronco rocks wildly
to and fro.
Fragments from the Delta of Venus is the new exhibit by artist, author, educator
and intellectual Judy Chicago. Like much of her work, these watercolors and prints
pay homage to female sexuality. Chicago offers us a female perspective on erotica,
which she says has been sorely lacking, “I have been attracted to the problem
of creating a visual language for female sexual agency.” The work evolved as a
result of inspiration Chicago received from reading “Delta of Venus,” a group
of erotic stories by her mentor, Anais Nin. Chicago selected fragments from the
book and created a series of images she calls a visual analogy. The result is
erotic art wrapped in an almost vintage romanticism. Sure it’s genitalia—male
and female—but so delicately rendered that it’s pleasurable, not shocking or offensive.
All three exhibits
run through Dec. 4. An artist reception for Donald Woodman and Judy Chicago
will be held Sat., Nov. 6, 6–10 p.m. Flanders Art Gallery is located at 3012
Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls. 612-344-1700.