First Friday reviews, January 2014 

Long Division by David Hicks
  • Long Division by David Hicks

New Paintings and Drawings by David Hicks
Harrison Center for the Arts through Jan. 31
There's a wide range of work (and canvas sizes) by Herron visiting lecturer David Hicks on display here, but the eye is drawn toward "Long Division," a mixed media drawing just about as long as an undivided gallery wall. It shows a twisting highway overpass and a Union soldier on horseback shooting his pistol among numerous incongruent subjects, and it might just be about the festering war between Duck Dynasty patriarchs and loyal NPR listeners in early 21st century America. Maybe it's the Civil War in contemporary guise. Much of the composition is drawn in black and white, and the colors are as washed out as an American flag that's been in the rain too long. And in the middle of all this you see the artist, slumped over his desk, a flaccid and forlorn rainbow emanating from his pen. - Dan Grossman

Daydreamin No. 2 zine cover by The Droops
  • Daydreamin No. 2 zine cover by The Droops

Daydreamin' No. 2 By 
The Droops (Adam Wollenberg, Ashley Windbigler, Ally Alsup, Christian Brock Forrer, Emily Gable, Paul Pelsue)
General Public Collective through Jan. 31
The Droops, a new artist group comprised of six Herron alumni, created five large, colorful reliefs in black permanent market on the walls of General Public this month to coincide with the release of its second zine, also entitled Daydreamin' No. 2. (True to the group's collaborative spirit, the zine comes with a copy of the new EP by local band Teenage Strange.) Nothing is off limits in their subject matter; the imagery refers to everything from comic books to tattoo flash to the Oregon Trail video game. The tone is whimsical, sarcastic and a bit nihilistic. The art trades heavily in puns and the abject, and shows a fascination with the found imagery and various styles of hand lettering that the keen observer might find when navigating the urban environment. They obviously have a wealth of ideas and are having fun creating work together. The Droops' artwork shares a kinship with fellow Herron and GPC alumnus Erin K. Drew, and exists in the same realm as the Chicago Imagists and their Hairy Who group exhibitions. Ultimately, the art conjures the feeling most of us in the smartphone age likely feel everyday: being completely overwhelmed by incoming media. The difference is, this media is far more quirky and engaging and leaves a much nicer aftertaste. - Charles Fox

Justin Vining, Catching Stars on Park Avenue
  • Justin Vining, "Catching Stars on Park Avenue"

Chapter XVI - Becoming a City New Work by Justin Vining
City Gallery at the Harrison Center for the Arts through Jan. 31
If you were forced to choose an adjective to describe Justin Vining's art, it'd have to be "whimsical." But there's a note of lyricism in his work as well, in paintings like "Catching Stars on Park Avenue," depicting a row of houses on (Indy's) Park Avenue set against the Indy skyline. In this painting, a white streak of road curves like the surface of the earth against the dark of the night. And in a painting simply entitled "Park Avenue," Vining attempts a more literal kind of realism in the same setting, showing promising growth as an artist. - Dan Grossman

Martha Nahrwold: The Guardian Series
Five Seasons Gallery at Circle City Industrial Complex, North Studios
By appointment
This First Friday, I finally had a chance to take a close look at some of the beautiful work that Nahrwold does in her studio/gallery space. Her process ... well, she'd be happy to show it to you, but you'll have to visit. I enjoyed the monoprints and mixed media works that make up her "Guardian Series," focused on the life-force of a single tree. But my favorite was "Finding Dragons and Other Beasties," full of color and light and rhythm, depicting an exhilarating - and fantastical - array of underwater life. - Dan Grossman

Martha Nahrwold, Guardian III
  • Martha Nahrwold, "Guardian III"

Art School Rejects III
Indy Indie Artist Colony through Jan. 24
I think Martha Emily Davis's triptych of photos "Second Seeing" is one of the standouts in this group show, which consists of work rejected from the 2013 Herron Undergraduate Exhibition. Her black and white film photographs show transmission towers - that is, overhead power lines that bring us electricity, as well as warmth, light, and security. In "Second Seeing," the transmission towers are rendered as skeletal centurions holding the line against impending darkness. I also enjoyed Amy Applegate's colorful, untitled painting, whose subject seems to be a missing puzzle piece from an adjacent 4-D universe. The big puzzle is why the aforementioned work was rejected from the Herron show where there was plenty of humdrum mixed in with the good stuff. - Dan Grossman

California Series Yet to Be Named
Katrina Murray Studio
North Studios Circle City Industrial Complex, 2nd Floor by appointment
[rating pending]
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a focus of Katrina Murray's attention in a number of her oil paintings here, some yet to be completed. Check out Murray's depiction of Bruce Nauman's LACMA video installation "For Beginners," featuring huge images of four simultaneously-gesturing hands. A visitor from another planet might see as some kind of altar of worship. Even if you don't agree with Nauman's contention that everything that takes place in a studio must be art, Murray's own studio offers up a convincing counterpoint. - Dan Grossman

Katrina Murray, Kubricks Camera
  • Katrina Murray, "Kubrick's Camera"

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