In Steve Paddack's masterful painting "Coveted House Contemplative," you see a magical and mysterious red light glowing, at dusk, from the entrance of a small house. It's not a bad visual metaphor for Saturday's SoBro Arts Spring Studio Tour, in which Paddack will take part.
Paddack is just one of fifteen artists with studio space at the multiuse business center at 2060-2070 E. 54th St. in south Broad Ripple. While nondescript from the outside, the gabled roofs and large windows inside these studios make them great spaces for displaying, as well as making, that mysterious thing called art.
SoBro Arts — an association composed of the artists and educators who rent space in these buildings — is sponsoring this event. For the general public, it's a chance to peek inside the studios of artists who normally keep a low profile, usually opening their studios only by appointment.
For Paddack, this is an opportunity to show his paintings, one of few he's had since his last solo show in 2009 because he keeps busy with a high-end decorative business he runs out of the same studio.
"For me," says Paddack, "it's a bit more of a social event and a way to let curious people in on how we work. About this open house I don't really have any preconceptions except that I'll just open the doors and show a few new works, some older works, and maybe put some lower prices on some really old work and see if I can't move it out the door."
Other studios have been more active in terms of opening up their studios to the public. On May 17, the Seed and Star Studio opened itself up to the public — and not for the first time — for what their members called "a spring cleaning," hoping to move some of their works. One of the studio's artists is Sofiya Inger, who, as you might recall, filled an entire gallery space with her mixed media Story Dome at the Indianapolis Art Center during January 2013.
Inger is struggling to find a project that compares in size and scope to that prior work that included painting, audio, and mixed media sculpture components. In the meantime, she's continued with her sculptural work, which will be on view on Saturday night. The humanoid figures that she creates — often incorporating media such as clay and painted fabric — seem like organic extensions of a forest floor, at the dividing line between the living and the dead.
Inger will also have a number of her highly expressionistic paintings on view. One of these paintings, "She is Gone" (acrylic on board), features a greenish old man carrying a brightly colored image of a young girl around in his heart.
"I had a show in Columbus, Ohio at the Jewish Community Center several years ago," Inger says, talking about the genesis of this particular painting. "And then a gentleman came to talk to me. He was very old. And he kept telling me about his wife who he met when he was a young girl. So they met as teenagers. So he kept telling me that she was wearing this big blue ribbon in her hair and just described here as lovely girl. But she of course grew up, got old, and died."
Inger shares her studio with, among others, photographer Emily Schwank, who occasionally photographs her children in various states of undress. Her posting of such photos on Instagram led her account to be "permanently deleted" this month by the photo-sharing and networking service.
"I feel like my work is about a true story of what mothering is," she says of her digital photographic work centered on her family. "And it's neither hearts and kittens and sweetness, nor is it all drudgery. It's somewhere in between. And with children, it's kind of this magical land somewhere between filth and beauty. That is the world that I live in and that is the world that I photograph because the best work I can do is the work I know best.
"And it's controversial. And I'm not sure if it's controversial because sometimes my children are naked or whether sometimes people just aren't comfortable with the whole subject matter of mothering. I've had people say of images that weren't nude, they were regular images — that they felt like the child looked abandoned. And they weren't comfortable with that. And maybe that's okay."
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