I stopped by the Circle City Industrial Complex’s Schwitzer Gallery on Friday, Oct. 7 to see an one-night-only exhibition entitled “Two Generations of Kewanna Artists.” The exhibition paired the late James Spencer Russell, whose work was the subject of a 2014 retrospective at the Indiana State Museum, with the paintings of Lindsey Kozubik. And afterwards I paid a visit to the Stutz.
Kozubik was on hand at the CCIC to give me a brief tour of her oil on canvas paintings that combines portraiture and fantasy with contemporary allegories. She also told me a bit about her background.
“I graduated high school in 2000,” she said. “Then I went to art school at IU Bloomington. I moved to Kewanna in 2010. And I’ve been working with the artists there…. So the last couple of years I kind of branched out and wanted to do my own thing. I started doing all of these collages in my studio and I just paint from them. I collect magazines and old pictures and I through them into a box without really thinking about it. And when I’m ready to think of ideas for a painting, I just start piecing them together and it just kind of happens on its own.”
That is, she uses the collages as studies for her paintings. She also refers to art history in her work.
Consider “Modern Ophelia,” which takes inspiration from the 1852 painting “Ophelia” by British artist Sir John Everett Millais but has the subject bathing in a swamp full of binary computer code: 0s and 1s.
Is this what a pre-Raphaelite painting looks like through Google Glass?
“I love technology, everyone uses technology, but sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by it,” she said.
Another painting that deals with technology is “iPod Baby.”
“I have all these medical books of anatomy that I like to look through,” she said. “The pregnant woman is pretty interesting to me but I thought it would be more interesting to put the baby in an iPod.”
Another painting that deals with technology, entitled “Deliverance,” also recalls her religious upbringing. It has the characters tramping through the desert, who apparently forgot some essential supplies, ordering water on their iPads and iPods.
“I grew up as a Catholic,” she says. “My brother lived in Albuquerque for a while. So I visited him last summer. And I wanted to do a desert scene. So I just started clicking on desert scenes, on horses and men."
The particular man depicted here didn't pack enough in the way of canteens.
“So they just order a drone to come and bring them some water," Kozubik continued. "I’ve been thinking about our resources and water’s our most precious one.”
Other paintings are more personal. “Happy Thanksgiving” is a painting that specifically recalls her childhood:
“I grew up on a farm,” she said. “I remember when it was time to butcher all the turkeys, and I always wanted to be the strong girl who would go out with my dad, and I would just run away and cry all day."
And aside from the thematic material with its obvious sense of humor, there's plenty to admire in her work just in terms of the paint. Consider the rhythmic bands of sky in her backgrounds, the brooding colors, and the sheer confidence of her stylized depictions of both man and beast.
James Spencer Russell, the other artist featured in this exhibit, was born in Monticello, IN in 1915. (Check out this article
to find out more about his career as an artist) He died in 2000.
Russell was fascinated with James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake
—the author’s last and most difficult work which included many words of his own invention, some that could be quite long, according to Ron Kern. Kern along with his wife Julie organized this exhibition that showcases wall hanging works with painterly, sculptural, and collage elements based on the hundred letter word. He leads me to one piece in particular.
"This is a really interesting piece with Life Magazine and it’s called 'Red Hot Hundred' and it shows various people from 1962 who were going to be big guys and then he interjected some of Finnegan’s Wake’s characters," said Kern.
You can see two of these characters, Eve among them, drawn in among the red hot celebrities of 1962 such as Philip Roth.
An old friend of Russell’s was on-hand at the exhibition, Wade Bussert. Bussert essentially saved Russell’s work from oblivion when he died.
“He [Bussert] went into Jim’s house and took these big rubber tubs and essentially took everything from Jim’s life and put them into these 16 twenty gallon tubs, and that was what Julie and I were able to go through,” Kern told me.
(The Kerns also bought much of Russell's work at auction.)
On the 22nd and the 23rd, an annual art fair will take place in Kewanna, featuring the work of Lindsey Kozubik, Wade Bussert and others. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, a brief note on a very cool exhibition:
I also stopped by the Raymond James Stutz Art Gallery to check out the “Secret Door” Gallery Exhibition which is all about bringing art to children by displaying professional level art at their eye level, which just so happens to be 36 inches high. There were quite a few children at the exhibition. And there were many interactive pieces, both painterly as well as sculptural, in addition to installations, designed to engage children. Judging by all the children running around the very cool art, the exhibition looks like it succeeded.
The exhibition, open until October 28—and the swan song for Stutz artist Leigh Dunnington-Jones who will leave the Gallery Director position at the end of the month—was produced in partnership with Just My Height Art Shows, “an organization devoted to engaging children in art.”