Thistles and art ghosts 

Visual Arts Review | thru March

Visual Arts Review | thru March
Herron School of Art graduates have been under the spotlight of late with three exhibits now up around town, and another that closed a few weeks ago, that focus on Herron"s success stories: artists who have made or are continuing to make something of their artistic selves.
"Decorated Mountain" by Brian Fick, part of the exhibit on view at Woodburn & Westcott
Among these, and the one that is not under the auspices or direct collaboration of the Herron-at-IUPUI institution, Woodburn & Westcott"s The Herron Legacy exhibits the work of 11 Herron-affiliated artists, either graduates or teachers, all of whom are represented by the commercial gallery. And Woodburn & Westcott has chosen well: These are artists with solid name recognition, for the most part (at least around these parts), and their work is deserving. The Herron Legacy also allows us to explore the various directions artists pursue, especially when they have the right mixture of talent and drive. Ed Sanders" moody paintings are evocative and abstract; they reveal the artist"s maturity of voice and facility with the brush. Particularly strong is "Bride," a painting of a woman, set far back in the canvas, whose face is indiscernible under thickly layered paint. This, of course, could be read as either emergence or retreat. Kevin Robert Leslie"s paintings of meat carcasses are perhaps more experimental, but they are not easier to look at; these really are carcasses after all. (Leslie"s Meat & Metal exhibit along these lines is next on tap at Woodburn & Westcott, with an opening scheduled for April 4.) The artist"s sculptures, though, while abstract, ask us to ponder more symbolic paths: "Circle the Void #2," for example, is a series of upstanding concentric circles in steel, the outer ones broken. Richard Emery Nickolson"s offerings are familiar - recalling the artist"s long-standing approach of combining architectural-type drawings as insets to looser geometric ponderings, all two-dimensional and subtle in color. The artist cites architecture, the industrial landscape and poetry as interests. His works possess a poetic tension between concrete and abstract, and they are carefully crafted, cohesive structures. David Morrison steps out of the fold with his realistic renderings of super-sized objects from nature: a leaf, a seedpod, a branch of thistles. Morrison"s "Still Life #1," along the lines of Audubon"s early nature drawings, is intoxicatingly real: Floating in white space and brilliantly drawn in colored pencil, the thistle branch bristles with larger-than-life energy. One of the gallery"s owners, Doris Vlasek Hails, counts herself among the Herron affiliates. A selection of her paintings and sculptures from the archives is on view here - among them, the memorable "Art Gallery," in which art, viewers and ghosts subtly cavort so it is unclear who is watching whom, or what. Hails" surrealistic edge is also present in "City at Dusk," a large canvas depicting large hands pulling a sheet of blue over the skyline. The Herron Legacy also includes works from veteran Herron professor and one of the city"s premier abstractionists, Robert Berkshire; mysterious landscapes with decorative borders by Brian Fink; lyrical, expertly wrought and funky but timeless functional wood pieces by Joe Bricker; the traditional impressionist-type paintings of Avery Dellinger II; the graphic works of N. Beth Line; and finally, as if to usher in spring, the lush landscapes of Lynn Thomsen in their characteristic, well-lit greens below blue skies. Woodburn & Westcott"s The Herron Legacy is on view through the month of March. The gallery is located in historic Fountain Square at 1043 Virginia Ave., Suite 5; phone 916-6062. Gallery hours: Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

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