Fleeting Moments at the Harrison Center for the Arts


  • Evergreen by Emma Overman and Annabel Krisch

I'm at the Harrison Center for the Arts and there's a great deal going on here: Food Con V is underway outside the Harrison Center which means lots of great things to eat - an entire universe of food trucks with goat and lamb and flying cupcakes and meats wrapped in foil cooking in car engines- but I figured that I'd look at the art in the Harrison Gallery before getting something to eat.

Two works here in Emma Overman's new show in the Harrison Gallery show (on display through July 29) both continuity and growth and not coincidentally they bear not only the same title but the title of this show; "Fleeting Youth." The first iteration is a painting (acrylic on birch) and then there's a graphite on parchment paper drawing and both depict an enormous hourglass that dwarfs the childlike creatures at the foot of it, as well as some doggies and balloons.

The drawing is new, or at least I haven't seen her work with graphite and parchment in the past. The meaning and humor here is obvious, not subtle, and that obviousness is part of the humor. Some might think that Overman's work is too obvious, but if you spend time looking at her work you'll often see much lurking beneath the surface.

Back in 2011, I wrote a cover story for NUVO entitled Emma Overman, All Ages Art, which, despite its title concentrated on the more child-friendly aspects of her work, and went to press in a way that a certain episode in Overman's life that was very significant to her - and very important to her art - was left out.

This episode is referred to directly in the acrylic-on-teacup saucer painting "Fly" which depicts a baby humanoid riding a baby bird and the bird has almost a sorrowful expression on her face. (This piece actually broke and Overman had to glue it together before it was hung.) Consider the inspiration for this particular piece:

"In the Spring of 2010," says Overman, "I was pulling vines off the roof of my house and accidentally pulled down a nest with a baby bird. You're supposed to leave a baby bird on the ground, that's what they say but there was a feral cat community next door. We didn't feel comfortable leaving it there. My husband climbed a ladder and put the bird and nest in the gutter of the house. It stormed that night and in the morning the bird was dead. A few days later I had my miscarriage."

Overman clearly ties these events together in her work and perhaps otherwise.

Overman, however, subsequently had a successful pregnancy and is now the mother of one Annabel Krisch, now 3 and a half years old who was a collaborator on a piece called "Evergreen" in which you see a woman lying down in a fairytale forest.

The woman's oval-shaped face (a trademark Overman touch) is all scribbled out with chalk. This contribution, as it were, to her mother's art, reminds me of all the things my daughter destroyed when she was three years old. If only I had been able to so transform this destruction into art as well!

Overman works cleverly with unusual canvases in this show; one of her works is series of paintings linked together in the shape of a train depicting a train—with balloon (paintings) flyin from the caboose. Some of the passengers are dancing stars and a dog in a tutu. It's a train off to some imaginary storybook circus (not surprisingly Overman's illustrated children's books). And then there's paintings that also work as functioning clocks.

My favorite piece here though, is a little more open-ended than the aforementioned work.

It's entitled "Stars" (acrylic on canvas) and depicts two girls holding the star-stuff of the galaxies in their hands - Carl Sagan asked during his series Cosmos whether or not it was possible that each atom in the universe was itself a separate universe. At any rate, these girls are handling these stars as if they were cotton candy against a skillfully rendered black backdrop that suggests the emptiness of the universe from which we all come from and which we will all return too.

Anyway, before getting something to eat I will check out Quincy Owens' and Luke Crawley's light sculptures in Gallery #2 in a show called Toujours, Pas Encore. In fact, Crawley is about to give a performance there. My appetite for Foodconny food will have to wait just a bit! So long for now.


Dan Grossman is NUVO's arts editor.

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