November 2013 visual art reviews 

click to enlarge Tom Torluemke, "Meanest of the Marauders," from Hardball at Mt. Comfort Gallery
  • Tom Torluemke, "Meanest of the Marauders," from Hardball at Mt. Comfort Gallery

Tom Torluemke: Hardball
By appointment at Mt. Comfort Gallery; call 765-753-0390

★★★★ (out of five)
In the large scale painting, "Meanest of the Marauders," you see a man being sodomized with a baseball bat in a gang attack. The unblinking nature of Torluemke's work here, in a variety of media, recalls Goya's series of prints Disasters of War, but there's often a sexual edge to his work that's all his own. And then there are paintings that deal with his own horrifying past, namely finding his mother just after her attempted suicide. Lest you think this painter is exclusively obsessed with human folly and/or homoerotic sadomasochism, check out his mural on the sixth floor of Indianapolis Central Library. - Dan Grossman

Kyle Ragsdale: Enchanters
Through Nov. 27 at Harrison Center for the Arts
★★★
In last year's Tableaux at the Harrison, Ragsdale was going in a freer, looser direction. His figures might've been dressed as Victorians, but they were lifelike and set against contemporary Indy backgrounds. Now the stiff ladies - always painted in profile - are back in a big way (if without the Victorian garb). The conveyances they use for forward motion or flight, instead of legs or wings, are like Navajo rugs torn into shreds and reassembled as airy spheres. (This show was, according to the artist, inspired by his recent visit to his childhood home of New Mexico.) A standout painting called "Mercy Ship" suggests celestial conveyance. The ship's red beams and sails are strands of rope tied in a gordian knot as the bow aims heavenward in a yellow sky. I find this painting full of spontaneity and mystery. - Dan Grossman

click to enlarge Robert Horvath, "Excitotoxin, Gold and Blue," from New is Better at Gallery 924
  • Robert Horvath, "Excitotoxin, Gold and Blue," from New is Better at Gallery 924

Robert Horvath: New is Better
Through Nov. 27 at Gallery 924

★★★★

If you've ever read William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, you've encountered the Black Meat, so delicious and nauseating that you have to keep eating it even while vomiting between portions. As I encountered Horvath's painting "Neurofraud," I thought of the Black Meat. Perhaps "Neurofraud" is portraying the brain's pleasure center in a state of perpetual orgasm, which would be way too much of a good thing. At any rate, it's doing so with an enticingly delicious blue sheen. Horvath's paintings, and to a lesser extent their porcelain sculpture counterparts, struck me with their mastery and their urgency. But I wouldn't want them in my living room. - Dan Grossman


Todd Matus: Interiors
By appointment at Litmus Gallery

★★★★
In the photograph "Violin Atelier Window, Sofia Bulgaria," you see a pleasant apartment and a window looking out on the street. In a similar photograph, you see a similar setting half a world away - in Indianapolis. Wherever Todd Matus goes as a violin maker and a photographer, he captures crystal clear and engaging images, showing that great photos (and violins) can be made anywhere. - Dan Grossman

The Reunion Project: Herron School of Art & Design Alumni Show
Through Nov. 27 at Harrison Center for the Arts

★★★1/2
This may be an uneven show - given the size and scope how could it be otherwise? - but there are some stellar standouts, including a great selection of prints, both abstract and figurative, by the late Ed Funk, an icon in the Indy arts community, who died this year. Don't miss a painting by Indy-based artist Katrina Murray, set on the rooftop patio of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum-goers are cast in shadow while looking outward into the brilliantly-lit vastness of the surrounding landscape.

click to enlarge Todd Matus, "Violin Atelier Window, Sofia Bulgaria" from Interiors at Litmus Gallery
  • Todd Matus, "Violin Atelier Window, Sofia Bulgaria" from Interiors at Litmus Gallery

Welcome Home
Nov. 1 at Old Indianapolis City Hall

★★★★1/2

Welcome Home built on the buzz that [space], a contemporary art programming outfit, created with its first event, Vacant, which took place in May, also at the Old City Hall Building. Whereas Vacant gave artists free rein to create site-specific installations, Welcome Home revolves around the theme of the "monochromatic living room."

Artist teams were given a color theme, and then collaborated to create a living room within their allotted space; as one can imagine, "living room" was very subjectively defined in this context. 37 local artists created 18 installations, in total. The "living rooms" were largely excellent and well-executed, with the overriding feeling that each room one entered felt somehow more impressive than the last.

click to enlarge Lucas Bentley and Andrea Panico's "yellow room" at Welcome Home, a one-night installation exhibition at Old Indianapolis City Hall.
  • Lucas Bentley and Andrea Panico's "yellow room" at Welcome Home, a one-night installation exhibition at Old Indianapolis City Hall.

The yellow, clear and gold rooms stood out. Jordan Ryan and Kurt Nettleton's gold room would have felt at home in an episode of Twin Peaks. It featured framed holograms and metallic gold fringe and a velour couch, in front of a vintage television displaying age-appropriate television that segued into a bizarre dance video of the artists in the installation itself.

Ben Langebartels and Andrea Townsend's clear room achieved the greatest purity of form with a bubble wrap couch, a table composed of and supported entirely by sheets of glass, beta fish swimming in wall-mounted half-orbs and shelves holding a multitude of bottles. A tray of thumb tacks and a cigar cutter on a coffee table disrupted the oddly perfect and sterile atmosphere with a somewhat sinister and threatening implication.

A sense of voyeurism abounded within the exhibition, but Lucas Bentley and Andrea Panico's yellow room took that feeling the furthest by placing the viewer outside a brick "house" in which she had to peer through the windows to observe the living room - and the artists interacting in real time within it. - Charles Fox

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