The Indy Jazz Fest has come and gone, but its cadence of sounds and sensations remain in the work of Gregory Huebner, whose collection of paintings, Bass Lines, opened at Ruschman Art Gallery in tandem with the weekend-long event. Huebner, who teaches art at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, has maintained a respectable presence regionally, having shown widely and consistently. He has developed an artistic voice that is uniquely, and identifiably, his, and yet he follows almost academic principles of abstraction - if there are such things. The viewer almost has the sensation "I"ve seen this before," but Huebner riffs with his own variations as a jazz musician riffs on a standard tune. Therein lies its unique pleasure.
"A Gal in Calico" by Gregory Huebner, part of the "Bass Lines" exhibit at Ruschman Gallery
Huebner was literally influenced by jazz as he produced each of these paintings: Each piece is titled as such. Some of the most delightful variations of his thematic approach are the smaller compositions. "Kelley"s Blues," painted to the tune of that name written by Oscar Peterson and performed by The Oscar Peterson Trio, is airy and light, all its elements moving together like a sensual embrace. A sweep of yellow to the west, a swath of white to the east, blue accented by fuchsia to the south Ö it"s nearly a landscape. "Summertime" is also pastoral in its way: Here, there"s a swirling effect, more like the sky in a pirouette of bright brushwork.
Huebner"s larger canvases (all are painted in acrylic) are more contrived, but not in a bad way. These just work to a different set of rules. "Ornithology," like many other of similar style, actually conjures musical notes. Here, while each marking is just a suggestive dab, the notes are placed in formation atop deep, near-earth tones of olive, brown and the toned-down versions of orange and blue. Black lines cradle the shapes that emerge; this is typical of much of Huebner"s work.
None of these feel as if they"ve sunk into the canvas. Instead, they rest upon it as if the colors and forms are still moving and finding their place - much like the musicians in a jazz band who move around, over and under one another as they drift sounds out into space. "Blue in Green" is a case in point, while the composition is more fixed: Aegean blue forms the center circle, while Caribbean green floats outside of it. Notes flutter about like birds, more like birds of water given the aquatic hues.
These works are rich with imaginative potential for the viewer: The sky - and sea - are the limit as to what the psyche conjures up while giving them a listen.
Bass Lines by Gregory Huebner is on view through July 6 at Ruschman Art Gallery, 849 N. Alabama, phone 634-3114, www.ruschmangallery.com.