The Indianapolis Art Center recently debuted a characteristically strong showing of contemporary art in its Summer Exhibition Series. Loosely linked by the concept of storytelling, the six exhibitions span across media, styles and concepts.
Eric Troffkin's Communication Vine contorts a cell phone tower into a roller coaster-like shape and invites consideration of the depth of our reliance on technology for communication. Is the "vine" taking an organic form because technology is so integrated into our communication that we take it for granted, or has it come crashing down?
Joseph Lupo's Comic Configurations deftly distill comics into awkward and tense moments. He joins the comic-oriented discourse that also includes Garfield Minus Garfield and Ray Yoshida's artwork. The dark, arcane sentiments expressed in the speech bubbles contrast with the comic imagery; considered alongside Lupo's text-based pieces that alphabetize all words from selected comics, the art has the lingering and unsettling effect of channeling utter insanity.
Six air dancers normally used to advertise car dealerships and the like - five together in one room and a solitary dancer at the entrance to the space - make up Sam Blanchard's Salutation of Courtesy. The dancers are triggered by the movement of gallery visitors and are quite unnerving. Blanchard seems to suggest that we have become desensitized to the degree to which advertisement is engrained in the urban built environment. The title of the show is lifted from a nearly century-old etiquette book.
In Lukas Schooler's Polis, the artist takes on the role of zany fictional character Dr. Felix Rupton, who collects objects submitted by viewers for inclusion in the Indianapolis Museum of Current and Past Objects. Alongside Schooler's digital videos and mixed media sculptures, the exhibition invites consideration of how the contemporary urban environment succeeds or fails in coexisting with neighborhoods' historical contexts.
Amelia Morris' An Honest Assessment explores themes of anxiety and inadequacy through self-portraits that feel plucked from dreams and banners similar to those that normally carry messages of celebration or congratulation repurposed to reflect angst, with sayings such as "I'm too old for this" and "I wonder what we could have been." She succeeds in bravely portraying very personal struggles in a universal way, all the while injecting a dark sense of humor into the work.
Charles Mintz's Precious Objects is an engrossing collection of portraits depicting people with their most prized objects. The portraits gain a great deal of power from the handwritten explanations that accompany them, written by the people depicted in the photographs.