House riffs 

Visual Arts Review | Thru Feb. 2

Visual Arts Review | Thru Feb. 2
The red floor isn"t the most interesting aspect of the exhibit Dwelling, on view at the Harrison Art Gallery, and yet, it does make for a lovely presentation, and it may help to set the artwork apart. How many of us would dare to paint our living room or bathroom floor red, after all? Perhaps more importantly, why wouldn"t we?
"Dwelling," is on view at the Harrison Art Gallery through Sunday, Feb. 2.
Intended to explore the theme of "how we exist - physically, socially, spiritually, cognitively through line, texture and color," Dwelling offers up two Zionsville-based artists" interpretations of the Dwelling theme through both two- and three-dimensional work. Barbara Zech and Amy Kindred, ceramist and pastel artist respectively, have created mostly pleasant work; but what breaks new ground here is not their use of the media but rather its thematic presentation. Kindred"s pastels are spontaneous and Seuss-like in their quirky abstraction. These are sort of houses, with sort of windows, and really not much else. They are not so much houses, then, as riffs on houses and buildings - at once somber and playful, if it weren"t for the intense colors the artist employs. Kindred"s use of color is welcome, and elevates the forms to a higher artistic plane. One gets the sense, though, that the artist didn"t labor long over most of these; therein lies their charm. It"s a paradox of art: Sometimes the most spontaneous outpourings of pencil, pen or brush yield lovely results. And at other times the lack of sustained attention to a piece betrays an unappealing hastiness. Kindred is mostly in the former camp. This raises that other thorny, almost cliched aesthetic issue: quality vs. quantity. Would a bit more careful culling by the artist have resolved this minor problem? A bit of the same struggle seems to reveal itself in the selection of Barbara Zech"s ceramics. Most of the pieces have earned their rightful place on pedestal, shelf or nail. But some of the artist"s platters and vessels are less intriguing, for example, than her series of small, square ceramic pieces adorned with subtle geometric patterns. Rendered in earth-toned glazes, these seem to reflect on the notion of earth, or hearth, as they do not mimic actual spaces as Kindred"s pieces do. Some of the most intriguing of Zech"s works are actually not ceramic at all, or if they are, the clay is concealed. A series of about two dozen three-dimensional house-forms are either made from or are covered in an odd selection of materials, from a stretch bandage to camouflage to fur. These are not so much houses as house "thoughts." Zech also explores new territory with her string of ceramic "beads" (much larger than life) that hang suspended from the ceiling. In all, then, both artists have provided us with a morsel worth chewing on: What, indeed, constitutes a dwelling? And why is one place more appealing than another? Where do we park our bodies, our minds and our hearts, and why do we choose that place? Home, it can be said, is wherever we choose to invest our energy - for better or worse. Dwelling, then, is an apt metaphor. Dwelling is on view through Feb. 2 at the Harrison Art Gallery in the Harrison Center for the Arts, 1505 N. Delaware St. Call 514-6787 for more information.

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