TEXT BY MICHAELA MULLIN | VIEW IMAGES
Our Anniversary Group Show, with new works by familiar and new artists, is Moberg Gallery’s true celebration of what we’ve strived for these past 15 years: offering powerful ideas—often beautiful, sometimes disturbing—materialized into stunning narratives, moments, and media. We are grateful to work with, enhance, and be a part of the Des Moines area, Iowa, national and international art communities.
Annick Ibsen’s sculptural bodies own sharp angles amidst figurative curvature. Where with “Falling out of Grace,” Ibsen uses blacks to highlight the cubist lines and turns of the work, creating further dimensional extrusion, her smaller works, such as “Closet Love” and “Collapse,” are monochromatic so that the shadows are not only absolutely discernable but work to dramatically enhance the work’s three-dimensionality. These are deceivingly spare and yet organically intricate, like our own flesh in light. Ibsen’s “Iowa” and “Orchid” works sprout clay in black and white—the bi-color choice highlighting the basic rendering of fields, fowl and flora represented. The latter feel spare, though there is much going on— protruding an accumulation of growth.
“Untitled,” by Madai Taylor, uses the very organic medium of Iowa earth. It is reminiscent of Joseph Beuys Blackboards, diagramming thoughts—here perhaps the semiotics of geographical actions, only more about what could be imagined as a patch of land before the Jefferson Grid, drawn out as a plan to be further covered by more earth. Mud as foundation, hearth, burial and salve.
Lianje Zheng blooms something dark yet calm in the ink and acrylic work, “Fantastic Moon Shadow No 1.” The bleeding around white patches offers a way to look into the paper, while it feels like looking out through the forested abstraction. Positive and negative space seem to alternate positions, forming a puzzled contiguity, chiaroscuro as superlative spreading, drawing us across and inside the picture plane. (Watch for more of his work in Spring 2019)
The work of Jason Woodside is about pattern and repetition, color and line, though he doesn’t want to tell narratives that follow any actual linear thought. “Downers” and “Tri-Movement” are layered, playing with the planar, dimensionalizing dots and patches, as band widths and color changes create stretching and speed within these spray painted canvas works. Size alters, direction changes, triangles protract and replicate, imagining a stacking, imagining a trailing of after-images. (Don’t miss his eye-catching mural on Silver Fox at 28th & Ingersoll Ave., and look for more work around the city from him in June)
The artist duo, Wilson & Dooley, exhibit the new large-scale piece, “Rage Remix.” Composed of unique screenprints on six panels, it feels filmic, an exquisite-corpse flip book unfolded. Different widths of painted flakeboard serve up faces, eyes, mouths—a rollicking screamwork—only silent in its actual lack of sound. “Rage Remix” does manage, however, to reverberate through the gallery and viewer space with its imagistic fullness and rapid change—a powerful and poetic emission of emoting.
Robert Schulte, Jr.’s mixed-media on vinyl, “Mount Fuji Monster Robot,” presents as beautifully crossed and perpendicular strips amidst a containing circle. Schulte’s work is fun, humorous, and smart, and the combinations and recombinations are surprising and perfectly chosen—his visual diction, immaculate. “Arizona” and “Swirly, Clown-Clown, 5 Left” are each trios of vinyl discs, contrasted to pull shape and hue out as a pop to the eyes—each respective work’s groupings concerned with systems of seeing, of signs and icons that, though having common referents alone, now take on new relational meanings.
“May life throw you a pleasant curve,” TJ Moberg’s newest latex work, is bright in both color and sentiment—latex paint pieces collaged together in carefully calibrated strips and shapes. Composed of bold, solid swaths of color, there are blues and reds contrasted with mint green, peachy flesh tones, and mauve interventions to literally round out the swirling trajectory of this exhilarating piece. Taking thick line and bending it, Moberg creates circular loci. The largest and central one operates as a portal, or eye, to what may be deep blue sea meets purple haze sunset, creating bifurcation in the distance—horizon amidst the storm of stacked chaos in the world, of which we are reminded by the “warning” text and chasing arrows of plastic (re)cyclability imprinted in certain of the latex pieces.
Chuck Hipsher’s intrepid making is interested in velocity. With the new mixed-media work, “Nonstop,” Hipsher uses the canvas as racetrack turned open field, around which his media travels, not always fast, but always strategically. His work seems to be about temporal trace and technological encroachment, voraciously unpacked in the physical and psychical space of the viewer. Hipsher renders visual translations of what the French philosopher, Paul Virilio, could have meant when he said, “Speed now illuminates reality whereas light once gave objects of the world their shape.”
In Antwaine Clarke’s new drawing, “When do the Butterflies Come?” the detail and refinement of the figure is flawless, as always, and the body central to the composition. The ascension of the winged creature is made motion by the trail of small lepidopterans scattered like stars. Belle Morte Collective (Larassa Kabel and Ben Easter) shows “Spring,” from their Death in the Family series. Soft and embracing, this photo holds the elements, living and dead, with the same graceful measure and strength. Easter’s eye undoes the morbid juxtaposition, and instead sees and presents this ongoing relationship, one that doesn’t end, ever. Justin Beller’s “Untitled” works are soft abstracts, tender in their hues and painted collage-like compositions—candle and flame; partial cube; stripes that peek out, hide and resist getting swallowed by the larger surface areas of gray or white.
Mary Jones has installed “I Remember Everything” in the vestibule toward the back of the gallery. By surrounding the viewer with these perspectives of urban life from the streets, it is as if they themselves are passersby, drawn into the stories Jones was told through the experience of walking, and which she recreates here into new narratives.
Dennis Atherton’s color photography still lifes, “Dusty” and “Was That All It Was,” are dutiful in their nostalgia, but are made contemporary by Atherton’s placement and selection—as if he has curated the past from a consumer excavation site. His talent in form and content is evident in his entire oeuvre, though he often works in black and white. When he does photograph in color, there is added vivant. His finger is on the shutter button and our popular pulse, and his knowledge of cultural assignments and object imbuement, everyday or less practical in their specialty, is immense.
“From the Ground Up” is Danielle Clouse’s quiet and gorgeous ghostly cityscape, like architecture painted in silhouette. And don’t miss three works by Chris Vance, as well as Tibi Chelcea’s “Circuit Flooplans.” Sarah Grant’s musical windblown triptych, “Sail Away Seasons” is on display, as well as James Ochs’ striking “Caryatids.” A new work by Frank Hansen, “Lines Matter,” overlays simple bold black lines atop his more signature maximal abstracts—the lines form the shape of a freeway mix- master in extreme, or a meandering outline of a fetish of a complex god.
Also on view is Catherine Dreiss’ remarkable woodcut, “Daphne,”a portrait in both her forms, bodily and plant; Jeffrey Thompson’s large diptych “Untitled (lilies),” infuses the associated fragrance of the Stargazer into the show. Adding to the overall arrangement is “NYC Bouquets 2,” by Thomas C. Jackson. Tom Moberg’s abstract plaster relief sculpture, “New Directions,” is here, and also Scott Charles Ross’ “Tintagel,” from his Cornwall works.
Working in oil, Dennis Dykema creates a lush landscape with “Late Sun on Filed.” But in the land where there is less sun, you’ll find three acrylic works by Andrew Abbott, filled with sailing on the high seas of night dreams. Kenneth Hall’s oil on canvas, “Just Not in the Mood,” is a surrealist story of scale, power, and position, the bodies exposing either fiery lamentation or sheepish ambivalence—it’s hard to tell. Despite figural distance, intimacy is at the core, and intimacy’s attendant tension is palpable.
Anniversary Group Show: Celebrating 15 Years of Art is on exhibit through February 2019.