Breathing Room @ di Stilo Gallery
Wednesday 26 June @ 10:33:13
by J. P. Johnson
Di Stilo, well known for its charming space and calming exhibitions, has put together the perfect summer show. Breathing Room, nicknamed “Three installation artists and One guy with a brush,” falls squarely on the summer solstice and within the gallery’s mission statement of encouraging emerging artists and showing “home, fine performing and healing arts.”
Like a limitless summer afternoon Breathing Room is meant to slow the viewer down, create peace of mind and a comfortable environment for curiosity to make its way towards the artwork.
While Breathing Room is the creation of four separate artists, the pieces from each of the participants seem to overlap and complement one another with uncanny consistency. This does not mean that all of the pieces are similar but rather that all the works hold the same fresh, wide open feeling mentioned above.
Bob Schmitt, the “guy with a brush” is well known for his Asian style sumi-e paintings. In this show Schmitt created a series of triptychs that play with structural minimalism and symbols. For example, his piece “person and sky” is made up of three separate vertically hung banners. The center banner holds a delicate Chinese landscape painting of mountains, surrounded by an enormous and omnipresent sky. At the bottom of this piece one can see a small person standing by a splash of bright orange flowers. The right and left banners hold simply the Chinese characters for sky and person respectively. His work illustrates quite convincingly the extremely simple platform that supports the amazingly complex and detailed Chinese style paintings.
Of the three installation artists featured in Breathing Room one must stop to pay attention to the work of Kristina Estell. Estell’s work plays with light and space in a way that is immediately intriguing to the onlooker. Each one of her pieces throws shadows on the walls around it and each one seems to radiate a sense of unity for optimists and chaos for the viewing naysayers.
Kristine MacCallum’s piece “What J. Alfred Prufrock Really Means” is a must see for any literary denizens who may wander into di Stilo. It consists of hundreds of molded clay marbles strewn over a book. Each marble contains one of the words from T. S. Eliot’s famous poem and one can manipulate the words at will in hopes of solving the age old enigma of Prufrock’s quandary.
Breathing Room is a show that concerns itself with what should be the essence of summer and of all new beginnings. It beckons its viewers to mentally and physically come out of hibernation, to stand amongst the ideas of new artists and to stretch out with some room to breath.
The exhibit is currently open and continues through July 28. Hours: Thu. 1-8 p.m; Fri.-Sun. 1-5 p.m. di Stilo Gallery, 2837 Dupont Ave. S., Mpls. 612-871-1483.