Review: Porch Party at The Harrison Center for the Arts 

click to enlarge ragsdale_painting.jpg

The Harrison Center for the Arts currently has a group show centered on outdoor entertaining in City Gallery. And of course the Harrison's curator, Kyle Ragsdale — who practically invented a whole genre depicting porch parties in urban Indy — has a work entitled "Long Goodbye."

There's a lot going on in this painting; you see faces peeking out of the purplish shadows on a porch where neighbors and friends are seated together. And the lines of the painting converge on a window glowing yellow in the distance where no one is visible as if indicative of a coming absence.

Nathan Foxton's acrylic on canvas "High Life Nocturne with a Cyclist" depicts a young man and woman talking on a porch; the woman's wearing cycling tights. The man has his arm wrapped around the woman and the High Life refers to a beer bottle in the extreme right corner of the composition. The painting is to bright what Ragsdale's is to shadow work. And the paint glows in pinks, oranges and reds on some parts of the subjects' skin as if the photo reference for this painting was taken with a thermal imaging camera that displays the heat emanating from the two subject's bodies.

And then there's Justin Vining eschewing color altogether with a piece called "Porching and Fireworks" depicting what its title describes, using charcoal as a medium on Twin Rocker paper.

Neighbor revelry is becoming an increasingly common subject at the Harrison, no doubt thanks to the City Gallery. The danger, I suppose, is that the artists might copy each other's styles. This isn't happening here, as there's lots of diversity in media. Maybe the Harrison Center is about to give the Hoosier Salon a run for its money. Is the front porch the new covered bridge?


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