When I spoke with LAMP proprietress Jennifer Kaye a number of months ago, after the opening of one of the gallery’s earliest exhibitions, she was enthusiastic about the arts in the city and the talent here. Having lived and worked here myself for so many years, I have more often been skeptical. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to give us renewed hope that perhaps Indianapolis is on an upward swing.
‘Growth, Figure 6,’ Yukari Fukuta.
Which brings us to LAMP and the clichéd truth, where there’s a will, there’s often a way. Jennifer Kaye is willing to make the effort to bring early to mid-career artists to view: and she’s also willing to take some chances. Her latest installment, Sunshine on Your Shoulders, is evidence of Kaye’s sharpening curatorial focus — and this change is welcome. A half-dozen artists comprise LAMP’s latest gallery exhibition: Constance Edwards Scopelitis, Quincy Owens, and Marco Zehrung (painting); Kieth (sic) Hamm (sculpture); and Eric Royse and Yukari Fukata (ceramics). Scopelitis, an exception to the early to mid-career rule, is beyond mid-career, as she has been making and selling art for many years. Royse is also a more familiar name as he is an instructor at the Indianapolis Art Center. The other names are new, at least to me. It is always gratifying to see the work of “new” artists who are challenging themselves and producing unique work. Hamm is one such artist. I wouldn’t consider his constructions beautiful but they are innovative, and they speak to a depth of thought and aesthetic exploration. Hamm composes wall sculptures from media such as plastic shopping bags, newspapers and bottle caps, weaving the bags in a textile-like construction and then painting and shellacking it to hold it together. There’s a monstrous quality to the pieces, an intensity that is provocative. The work of Quincy Owens (who signs his work “Quincy”), is minimalist in its figuration and materials, yet complex in its layers. Quincy’s compositions of rectangular sections in flat colors speak to an early modernist aesthetic, and yet Quincy takes great care in laying down these images over silkscreen and thus lending them a post-modernist complexity. Here, as in Hamm’s work, a textile aesthetic is mimicked, in this case, in the form of batik-like imagery. Eric Royse, on the other hand, works with clay to create often humorous and yet somber pieces depicting, in total, a man’s struggle with romantic love, from the “fear” of communication to “frustrated desire.” Royse stencils some of these phrases into the clay before it sets. Faces, distorted with agony, project from the chaotic slab of clay. I couldn’t help but imagine the artist slamming the clay down onto the work surface and wrenching it with his fingers then carefully fashioning the figures. With Marco Zehrung’s work on the abstract end and Scopelitis’ fantastical, yet anatomically-correct feminine figures on the other end of the of the aesthetic spectrum, there’s a great span of styles to be appreciated here. Yukari Fukata’s sculpture of nearly perfect forms that mimic dragon tails with their pointed, tapered projections, round out the show with controlled cohesiveness. Taken collectively, this is not a show of artists whose aesthetic voices are settled, even if directions are laid out. And this is a good thing. Sunshine on Your Shoulders is on view through Aug. 30 at LAMP Fine Art Gallery, 901 N. East Street, phone 624-9803.