Seeing Art From the Heartland, the Indianapolis Art Center's biennial regional showcase, is an almost overwhelming experience. Thankfully, almost all of the art is of very high formal quality and much of it is conceptually rich. 71 works of art by 57 different artists from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky were selected for the show by Paula Katz, director and curator of Herron Galleries.
Patrick Earl Hammie's "Night Watch" oil painting took best in show and is indeed extraordinary. The huge painting deftly conveys a tense moment rife with fear and desperation, its subject matter, scale and mix of clarity and murkiness working together to create a disarming effect.
A few other works stood out from the mostly excellent pack. Frank Oriti's "Danny II" is a nearly photorealistic painting of a man who is presumably a soldier back from the war, standing in front of a row of hazy, whitewashed houses.
Boryana Rusenova Ina's "Postcard Homeland" charcoal and acrylic piece depicts an impressive and disorienting shift of perspective: It is framed from the perspective of looking out from a balcony straight-on, but the contents of the image are depicted as if the viewer is standing at an angle on the balcony looking outward. The leftmost portion of the painting is a blur of beautiful colors and loose shapes, and the rest of the painting is a more detailed cityscape that fades into obscurity as it is overtaken by distance.
Steven Lockwood's wall-hung assemblages are a nod to Lee Bontecou that add to the discourse by incorporating electric lighting and dialing down Bontecou's menacing element. Contributions from James Willie Faust, Robert Horvath and Benjamin Johnson were also highlights of this stellar biennial.