by Valerie Valentine
Jane Kirby has curated the inaugural show at Gallery Dar La Luz in South Minneapolis. Taking advantage of an empty commercial space for sale, Kirby turned the empty rooms into a gallery. “I wanted a place that wasn't snooty, where everyone could enjoy approachable art,” Kirby said.
The name means “to give birth” and in Spanish it literally translates as “to give light.” In this way the space represents the dawn of
creativity, showcasing passion’s fruits. Artwork becomes another kind
of child—an infant that grows as works become complete. “La luz”
is the talent that improves with practice and perseverance.
The gallery name also plays on the fact that Kirby is a midwife. Birthing babies
is a definite art form. The curator encourages children and people with children
to enjoy the space. Opening night, many young ones were about, including Kirby’s
own three daughters, one who entertained with violin solos. Both of the featured
artists are moms, too. Kirby met Rohlf at the Tilsner Artist Coop, and their
friendship lent the gallery show a comfortable community vibe.
Rohlf’s comic portraits make caricatures come alive. In sharp lines and
bold color, Rohlf builds persona through the use of paint. The piercing gazes
of her characters demand confrontation, while the animated illustration style
encourages whimsy. “Saving the Universe” is a blazing-haired superhero
vixen, bolting on her way to the next adventure, like present day “supermoms”
who work full-time while raising a family. “Villian” and “Wolverine”
are the bad guys we love to loathe, straight out of a comic strip. Thickly textured
details, like whiskers, wisps of hair and motion lines bring characters to a
unique point of liveliness. Rohlf’s portraiture feels up-close and personal,
especially next to Jane Thomson’s expansive landscapes.
Thomson balances the near/far dynamic by zooming out of various locales. The
artist methodically considers different scenes through a door from each place.
Using photos taken on trips to Greece, Brittany (France) and even places in
her own mind, we see an inventive portrayal of location. A spiked, trellised
door looms over a manicured garden from a castle; a crowded street in Athens
is filled with traffic going to market, boredom and worry expressed in the vendors’
faces. The doorways and windows give the landscapes a frame, building a realistic
point of reference.
Shows are planned for January through March. As long as the space remains for
sale, the gallery will continue to operate. Enjoy it while it lasts! ||
The works of Shelly Rohlf and JaneThompson run through Dec. 30. Gallery
Dar La Luz, 514 W. 39th St., Mpls. Gallery hours are Tue.–Sun. 2–6
p.m. Children welcome!