On first glance, the figures tower before you: Legs taper into footed stilts from on high, holding up the human body like a pedestal. And yet, the figures are not imposing: They are self-effacing, somehow, as if unsure whether they should be coming or going, or simply being. L’Oriano Galloni’s “Silent Souls” series, making its way through the Lurie Galleries circuit — from Los Angeles to Miami and, now, Carmel — is a sort of signature of the artist and the galleries: unforgettable for the works’ sky-high presence.
A hybrid of carrara marble and exotic wood, and occasionally bronze or aluminum, and at once classical and contemporary, Galloni’s figures are metaphorical shadow figures. They exist in the here and now but are capricious: The smooth faces, almost all carrying the same subtly surprised, naïve expression, are shrouded as if to suggest emergence from a second skin.
Lurie Galleries’ latest shop, Evan Lurie Gallery in Carmel, Ind., opened last September with a group show of artists, including the work of Italian artist Galloni. Its current exhibition, simply titled Valentine Show, highlights the work of Galloni and Jason Poteet, the only Indianapolis artist currently represented locally by the gallery.
A stroll around the high-ceilinged space, with bistro music tinkling in the background, gives the impression of the sort of high-end gallery you might stumble into in, say, Chicago — or, of course, Miami or Los Angeles. But this is Carmel, on the edge of the cornbelt, a buffer zone between metropolitan Indianapolis and the rural and industrial expanses the state is better known for. As part of the city of Carmel’s master plan to develop its Arts & Design District, the Lurie Gallery is evidence of the effort’s loftier economic development goals: that of bringing in high-end art at high-end prices.
Director Evan Lurie, who sings the praises of L’Oriano Galloni as one of the Lurie Galleries’ core artists, is taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding what Central Indiana audiences will warm up to when it comes to original art in the five-figure price range. The work of Poteet, a former Chicago stockbroker-turned artist, is smart and well-composed, as is most work in the gallery — but supporting local art is not the purpose of the gallery. Lurie said he looks for quality first.
With galleries such as Ruschman and Editions Limited already catering to the high-end art-buying crowd here, and making a point of carrying at least some Indiana artists, Lurie is a different beast. This art, like Galloni’s sculptures, may have a soul, but it speaks from a different elevation: high-end investment. Is Indianapolis ready?
View Valentine Show, including the work of L’Oriano Galloni and Jason Poteet plus gallery artists, at Evan Lurie Gallery through March 14. The gallery is located at 30 W. Main in Carmel’s Arts & Design District. Call 317-844-8400 or visit www.evanluriegallery.com for directions and information.