Woodburn & Westcott in Fountain Square, a relative newcomer to the city"s gallery scene, is also one of the more consistent in terms of recognizing good work by serious, or at least professionally accomplished, artists. Occasionally, though, there have been exceptions: There"s always a learning curve, after all. Group shows - and this summer there are several up about town - are often where these inconsistencies show up, when a gallery is attempting to group artists who are not necessarily one and the same in terms of their aesthetic development. In more grass-roots efforts, such as the artists" studios open house tour circuit, this is par for the course; but in an established gallery setting, intentions are supposedly laid down a little more clearly and viewers have higher expectations.
Doris Vlasek Hails" "Reshaping the Midwest," part of Woodburn & Westcott"s current group show
That said, the current group show at Woodburn & Westcott Contemporary Fine Art, entitled The Second Annual Show Off, and featuring "selected gallery artists," is a pretty consistent showcase. Gallery co-owner Doris Vlasek Hails, a known name in visual art here in Indianapolis, has included a number of her own paintings alongside the work of veteran Robert Berkshire; and the works of these artists alone would have contrasted nicely if the exhibition began and ended with their work. Gracing the front windows are Hails" abstractly painted ceramic vessels; these are a lively invitation to what"s inside. But there"s still more to be enjoyed by this collection of mostly Central Indiana-based artists. The work of Brian Fick, whose work was last seen in the Hot House space (now moved upstairs in the Murphy Building from its former storefront location), is moody, Turner-esque land- and seascapes - or their suggestions - overlaid with decorative patterns in metallic broken lines. Michael Neary from Terre Haute has contributed almost primitively inclined street scenes and landscapes, rendered in the gloss and groundedness of oils. These, too, are moody, but they come from a less manipulated place and instead possess an innocence of interpretation put forth with unpredictable, and therefore welcome, color combinations. Meticulously-conceived wood constructions, at once decorative, functional and purely aesthetic in value, are offered by John Hunter and Joseph Bricker. And Lynn Thomsen, another known entity, has contributed her solid oils on paper and canvas. "Central Canal Towpath" is her best in this collection - it"s impressionistic although the colors are somewhat anticipated in brilliant greens infused with light (with which Thomsen is a master). Woodburn & Westcott is divided into three spaces; overall, these works go quite well together. Berkshire"s vertical abstractions, multilayered riffs of strong line and kaleidoscopic color, play nicely with Hails" more geometric abstractions laid down in controlled blocks that are decidedly architectural. Again, the work of these two artists alone, artists whose aesthetic has matured and retained a compelling edge, are worth the visit. The additional art is icing. Woodburn & Westcott"s Second Annual Show Off continues through August in the Murphy Building, 1043 Virginia Ave., phone 916-6062 for information.