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Art from the Heartland 2014 

****1/2
click to enlarge Martha Opdahl, “Black Vessel #1.1”
  • Martha Opdahl, “Black Vessel #1.1”

Art From the Heartland is the Indianapolis Art Center's biennial regional showcase of art from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky. The 2014 juror is Sarah Urist Green, curator and host of PBS Digital Studios weekly web series The Art Assignment. Submissions were judged blind, so there is art from professors, professional artists and untrained artists.

As usual, there was a wide spectrum of excellent art selected for the exhibition. The quality combined with the sheer variety of media and styles on display makes a strong case for the Midwest's artistic prowess.

Courtland Blade's oil on canvas "The Frozen Aisle" expertly portrays the reflection of glass freezer doors on linoleum floor. It evokes the familiar and somewhat ironic desert mirage-like feeling of standing in a grocery store gazing down the aisle, consumed by the vastness of items and being unable to process it all and choose something to place in the cart.

Nathan Gorgen's acrylic and spraypaint on paper piece "WestWood II" forces close inspection before the viewer realizes that it is not real wood. The bright green stenciled lumber company branding, the zoomed in scale and the nearly flawless execution are more than the sum of their parts, rendering a normally overlooked everyday object as worthy of coveting.

Martha Opdahl's rubber sculpture "Black Vessel #1.1" engages in dialogue with postwar era sculptural explorations of John Chamberlain and contemporary peers such as Robert Morris and Diane Simpson. The black rubber's folds and creases give the sculpture a feeling that is both alien and familiar, inviting a closer look.

Katrina Murray's oil painting "View from LACMA" conjures Hockney, and succeeds in wryly questioning whether the art inside the museum can compete with the museum balcony's view of the mountains for viewer's attention.

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