by Natasha Walter
This month, Rosalux gallery is host to artists Amy Rice and Jonathan Nelson. Rice’s images span the gamut from children to caterpillars, teapots to paper dolls. These spray-painted images are scrawled on such varied surfaces as wood, screen and panel. The courage to explore and make use of unusual surfaces is a feature Rice shares in common with fellow exhibitor Jonathan Nelson. His sculptural pieces are composed on remnants of theater marquees, suitcases and other striking materials.
In a winning combination, Rice pens sweet images in spray-paint. This satisfying
fusion is most evident in “Meghan and Olivia,” an image of a young
girl and her paper doll. The girl looks up innocently as though concealing her
mischief with her big brown eyes. She holds the paper doll with the intimacy
of a friend who generously dresses her for every occasion. This touching image
is accentuated with exquisite pink flowers reverently hovering in the background.
her imagination, Rice composes a scene made up of a folding screen, a Japanese-style
table and sitting pillows. The pillows are spray painted with elegant flowers
and the screen is enlivened with a romantic scene of bird and twig. This dream-like
tea party shows the variety of which Rice is capable. Her images do not only
live on two-dimensional surfaces, but also expand outward toward the objects
that define our everyday life.
Sets of cavernous objects stuffed with relics of old-time movie culture film
reels, white satin gloves and pocket watches comprise Jonathan Nelson’s
“theater series.” Each object pours out of these dynamic structures—film
spilling out of the background, a dusty pair of glasses resigned to its fate,
and dim lightbulbs that have lost their former glamour. Viewing these entangled
objects sends the imagination reeling.
In the “marquee series,” Nelson contemplates his experiences with
advertising. Neon lights flash on and off, reminiscent of the old Gold Medal
Flour sign that hovers above the Minneapolis skyline. In this way, the pieces
attempt to reflect the quick pace of life, symbolized by the passing of storefront
signs and billboards—everyday experiences that interrupt the flow of a
good book on a bus commute.
Both artists display a spirited sense of style. Rice’s distinctive characters
and savvy designs show through in each piece. There is a luscious innocence
in her vision, one that seems to stem from the imaginative features of childhood.
Such tenderness is evident, for example, when Rice expertly captures the image
of a girl’s indisputable love of her paper doll.
Similarly, Nelson’s work is startling in its capacity to capture things
from the past. This evocative power is most evident in his “theater series.”
The emotional appeal hinges on the loving placement of each object. From the
smallest lighter to the largest film reel case, each object is imbued with history.
Just imagine you were on a hunt for sunken treasure and suddenly came upon a
chest of jewels. Nelson’s work captures what you might feel: that combination
of wonder and sadness for things that were once shiny and adored. ||
New Work by Amy Rice and Jonathan Nelson runs through April 29 at
Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls. 612-747-3942. Gallery hours
are Tue.–Thu. noon–8 p.m. & Fri.–Sun. noon–5 p.m.