LAMP Fine Art Gallery
Through March 31
You know who you are. You're the artists who either work hard or don't work hard, and either have talent or don't have it, but nonetheless, you're looking for recognition - in fact, your ego demands it. Who among us hasn't at least fantasized about being "discovered" for some hidden greatness, artistic or otherwise?
'Love American Style' by Terry Border
This observation sprang to mind as I viewed LAMP Fine Art Gallery's group show offering, Kindle, the latest in a series of light- or fire-themed exhibitions - at least in title (past shows have been called Glow, Shimmer and Tripping the Light Fantastic). This one is again true to its light-bearing claims: Kindle speaks to a kindling of the fires of creativity rather than a robust bonfire.
LAMP, after all, is consistently inconsistent within its group show format: Gallery director Jennifer Kaye is generous in her curatorial vision, bringing in artists whose talents are at both ends of the developed-vision or raw-talent spectrum and many points in between. In other words, she gives just about anyone a chance, as long as they challenge themselves artistically, at least in terms of developing fully a body of work within a particular style or thematic approach. (Each artist contributes several pieces of recent work developed along a cohesive stylistic line.)
For this, Kaye's artists should thank her. Sticking with a particular approach or style allows for the development of a bit of "greatness," even if it's just a bit. (A "glimmer," you might say.) Some artists may not have the innate talent to pull off the lasting variety, but with marketing savvy, persistence and a bit of good luck, they at least have the potential to find their way to an appreciative audience. Those who are naturally talented are all the more blessed. But all artists, like anyone who is ambitious in their chosen field, must work hard to be successful.
The artists who are part of Kindle - there are 10 of them in all - would seem to be making a concerted effort, if some are still far short of the mark. All told, the work ranges from charming, lightweight kitsch to mature, carefully realized inspiration. In the former category is the work of Lynne Medsker, whose work includes retro-detritus such as vinyl record albums and film canisters. In the latter category, Lewis Meyers' paintings are dark and yet effervescent: An almost cubist layering of stark lines and abstracted architectural forms cavort next to street scenes as if they were parallel universes. Meyers' work stands out, offering a thoughtfulness of vision other artists might strive to reach.
Other artists include Terry Border (sculptured signs, some of which would make great bar art, as another gallery visitor observed), Doug Arnholder (thick and/or chunky mixed media pieces), Melinda Domzalski-Hansen (manipulated photos with a preponderance of hands), Mary Hunt (pleasantly minimalist textiles), Kurtis Bowersock (naive-style paintings with ominous messages), Tony Shaw (slightly off-kilter photographs of New Orleans), Ken Wakeman (hazy figurative abstractions) and Ed Smith (collage abstractions in arterial reds).
If few of these works of art are what I would consider great, any one of these artists has the potential to capture that elusive moniker - it's up to them how hard they want to work for it. Few, history tells us, actually will. But for those with genuine talent, the potential is even greater. Only time and posterity will tell; and mine certainly isn't the last word.
Kindle is on view through March 31 at LAMP Fine Art Gallery, 901 N. East St. Call 624-9803 for information or visit www.lampfineart.com.