by Valerie Valentine
Galleries are often transient spaces that evolve into being. A show will pop up in someone's living room, transforming a private space into a social haven. An empty commercial space waits to be sold, and serves as an art venue in the meantime. In the case of Offbeat Gallery, six women combined their resources to form a gallery of their own. Initiate marks their second show in the space on North Glenwood Avenue.
The current exhibit features ten local artists whose work ranges from dainty
bracelets to wall-size paintings. The variety of media is vast, especially considering
the modest amount of space in the gallery. A couple of standout pieces were
the paintings of Tara La Plante and Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl, as well as the ilfochrome
prints by Gamini Kumara.
of the charming things about this gallery is that each medium is delineated
for the mixed media creations. Tara La Plante shows a large painting called
“Umino Nagame: Seascape,” made of acrylic, spray paint and marker
on linen. The rounded, smooth edges of each figure and gesture in the work make
a comforting, cartoonish landscape. Cool greens and blues add the salty flavor
of Japanese coastal air.
Elissa Cedarleaf Dahl maps locations with a knack for quirky color that adds
mood to atlas-like creations. Her abstract shapes and color schemes are freshly
focused by titles that contextualize the pieces. One “Suburban Sprawl”
series of paint, magazine collage, pine needles and more, shows a colorful bird’s-eye
view from Woodbury to Chaska. Dahl documents areas like an urban topographer,
and paints them with a sensitivity to each town’s inherent ambience.
The “Stars and Darkness: A Triptych” by Gamini Kumara invites deciphering.
The ilfochrome technique comes from silver-printing a photograph, then layering
in Photoshop. Thus, one rendering of a dried flower arrangement becomes three
wildly different images, linked by a reddish-brown shade. The picture was manipulated
to look like ghostly figures, profiles and landscapes. What we see in Kumara’s
abstraction is only limited by the viewer’s imagination.
Offbeat Gallery is in the unlikely arena of the Harrison neighborhood in North
Minneapolis. More artists are residing here, and the gallery owners are trying
to engage them, while exposing the rest of the community to quality art (for
free) in a welcoming space. To extend the social circle, the group seeks to
host performance events like play acting or poetry readings, and have offered
Offbeat up to anyone who might need a rehearsal space or yoga studio. Continuing
outreach is the goal, and the collaborative seeks neighborhood support to keep
this unusual venture thriving. ||
Initiate runs through Jan. 22 at Offbeat Gallery, 1535 Glenwood Ave.
N., Mpls. 612-377-5335. Gallery hours are Wed.–Sat. from 2 to 7 p.m.