All artists have to start somewhere, and landing an exhibition in an established gallery can take years of hard work and often requires a stroke of luck. Artists, though, are creative; and the marketing-savvy ones are adept at finding ways to an audience. Indianapolis seems to be brewing with opportunities for the young and the restless to show their work; most of these have been dreamed up by artists who know how it feels to be green.
Currently on exhibit at LAMP: work of Gwendoline Moon, Yosafa Deutsch, Shannon McClane, Tony Garcia, Kevin Yasuda, Marrow Paddock, Melissa Leehan, Robert Teckenbrock, Vanessa Oechsle and Jan Van Flexon
Jennifer Kaye, an artist herself, is one of these compassionate promoters of young art. Her recent effort, the LAMP (Local Artists Making Progress) space in the Chatham Center downtown on East Street, is somewhat off the beaten path, but it"s another venue for artists who want to exhibit their work and, for those who can afford it, rent studio space. The current LAMP installment is Kaye"s third effort here. "Artists come to me," she explains. And Kaye is generous in her criteria for selecting artists: "Most people who come to me get in." This kind of support in a gallery setting is indeed rare; and while the art, as a result, is inconsistent, there is a larger purpose at work. If one knows the rules of the game, one can make a better decision about whether and how to play. Kaye does have rules; her artists have to have a professional approach. "I"m trying to raise the bar on how people perceive local talent," she says. "I"m really trying to help artists here." Viewing work, even young work, in a "professional" setting can add something to the experience. Ten artists are featured in the current exhibit, and one has the opportunity to see more than one piece from each. This is a fine approach, as it gives the viewer the opportunity to learn more about each artist. Kaye believes it"s important for artists to develop a body of work before participating in an exhibit. While she doesn"t dictate the media or style of the work, the artists are asked to produce more than one piece in a similar vein. Most of these artists, though, are still refining their technique or are still trying to find their voice; this is more apparent in some cases than in others. Shannon McClane reaches into the depths with her large narrative scenes depicting mythological figures, and one senses that, with time, her brushwork will become even more confident. Gwendolyn Moon also reaches inward with her depictions of fiery landscapes and the recurring image of a woman whose arms branch out into a tree. Vanessa Oechsle puts great effort into her pensive, thickly layered collages, incorporating Spanish words and bright Day of the Dead colors. Other work, though, appeared less carefully conceived and executed; or it was clever in its conception but could have been more carefully finished. This, perhaps, is why the opportunity to exhibit is all the more important. It is only with the feedback of others, and the ability to reflect and challenge oneself, that an artist can grow. The efforts of Kaye and these artists is to be applauded. While most of the artists have yet to arrive, they"re being given the opportunity to succeed by having their voices heard. Expect to hear from a completely different group next time, as Jennifer Kaye plans to exhibit "a new set of artists each time with a completely different feel." Ignite the Flame, including the work of Gwendoline Moon, Yosafa Deutsch, Shannon McClane, Tony Garcia, Kevin Yasuda, Marrow Paddock, Melissa Leehan, Robert Teckenbrock, Vanessa Oechsle and Jan Van Flexon, is on view through March 29. The gallery is housed in the Chatham Center, 901 N. East St., phone 722-0137. For information on studio rental there call 571-8280.