by Valerie Valentine
Found objects mix up fine art. Materials besides paint and canvas can dress a creation up or down, depending on what the artist uses: a gemstone would add different zang than a piece of industrial debris, for example. Gallery director and show curator for Stevens Square Center for the Arts, Gerald Prokop proves in Coarse Grain that found objects create cause for reflection. Artists can change an item’s meaning by taking it out of its everyday place in the world and surrounding it with artistic space.
Dadaist Marcel Duchamp championed the found object movement
with his ready-mades like “Fountain,” a simple urinal. Cubists and
surrealists in the 20th century used materials like previously printed paper
in collages, and construction supplies in assemblages. These techniques are
now commonly employed by artists, particularly in installation pieces and sculpture.
Painting by Adam Ridgeway [right]
The artists in the Coarse Grain SSCA show are painters primarily;
some experiment with found surfaces for paint, others use bits and pieces to
make collage. Employment of texture unifies the distinct artists. Cory Rasmussen
uses burlap as a surface for his paintings. The irregular cloth absorbs paint,
and the fibers lay flat or stand straight up. From far away the roughness is
not apparent, but the figure is; close up, the posed “Muse” dissolves
into rich wavy lines on a thick sea of color.
I have admired Nicole Jensen’s work for a long time.
A photograph print of hers hangs in my office. I spied a bit of the skulls from
it reprinted for use in her mega self portrait, “Lit.” This collage
is all eyes and lips. Almost alien, the eyes are the focus of the piece, made
from lights off a traffic construction sign. In “Frustration,” Jensen
uses fishnet and bloody-black oils to create a gothic patchwork, fraught with
inky pleas of want and need. “Map” bears striking resemblance to
what I imagine Mars surface would look like under light of radiation, with chunky
layers of paint, glass beads and fur. She also uses bubble wrap in her “Ice
Bunny” piece. I’d give her first prize for “use of most unlikely
Adam Ridgeway comes in a close second. His works are bizarre,
sketchy portraits and landscapes. “King Tut (na na na na na na)”
globs paint, pencil, stickers and other media for a futuristic map of Egypt,
or maybe a more local topography. His acrylics always pulsate with rich color,
and text lends a graffiti aesthetic. Ridgeway prices his art affordably, too—as
low as fifteen bucks for “Starlight Swipe,” which looks like a piece
torn right out of the night sky.
Layered precision marks the work of Jeremy Szopinski. Deliberate
use of screens hovering over canvas makes for an eerie and clever vista into
portraiture. The ghostly quality of a face atop a face (created by the painted
screens’ transparency) exhibits multiple perspectives of the subjects’
personalities. “Three Politicians” is a sympathetic portrait of
men in the public eye. Each pose shows the subjects looking sincere and friendly,
but the see-though tiers allude to depth beyond the visual. Szopinski emphasizes
the skeletal structure of his subjects, suggesting mortality inherent in a very
popular found object, the human figure.
SSCA has got a lot going for it. Thoughtful shows are planned
out for future months. They’ve got a youth arts studio program, generating
pictures that remind us of the profundity inherent to innocence; kids have a
way of freshly interpreting emotions like joy and pain. The cooperative set-up
makes for a community of emerging artists to inspire and critique each other.
Coarse Grain runs through May 23 at Stevens Square Center
for the Arts. 1905, 3rd Ave. S., Mpls. 612-879-0200.
Also, look for some SSCA artists at Red Hot Art, running
at Stevens Square Park June 5-6.