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Top Five of 2012: Visual Arts

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Top Five of 2012: Visual Arts

John Himmelfarb, 'The Road Ahead Leaves a Trail Behind,' part of TURF.

5. Myron Conan Dyal: Charon's Pantheon, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art

The main exhibit in this show consisted of 13 life-sized, paper mache sculptures resembling humanoid creatures by Myron Conan Dyal, a self-taught, California based artist. Some of his sculptures like "Red Shroud" were so otherworldly - this red creature wore a veil that couldn't possibly be lifted - that you might doubt the most tangential connection to homo sapiens. Some, however, like "As Above, So Below," resembled none so much as the Virgin Mary.

4. Marna Shopoff: Structured Essence, Wug Laku's Studio & Garage

This show marked a move in an increasingly abstract direction for Shopoff, who nonetheless continues to focus on urban architecture as a key subject. Shopoff often starts with a photo reference, but that starting point is just as often rendered unrecognizable in the finished project. Her art proposes that the architectural edifices, ones that we take comfort and pride in, may not be around forever. This particular trajectory is evidenced most clearly in "The Bathtub," based on a photo of Ground Zero in New York City. This is one of those rare shows that I appreciate much more now, in retrospect.

3. Dan Cooper: Seasons, Gallery 924

Cooper is an Indy-based painter, adept at both portraiture and landscape. He might be described as a Midwest regionalist painter, but his work contrasts radically with much Hoosier Salon work. In the painting "Reflection," takes the familiar landscape of the Indianapolis Museum of Art as the backdrop but also shows a woman gazing into a space-time portal. Seasons, which feature a video of Bovary Tataras reading her own poem inspired by Cooper's work, was one of many standout shows this year at Gallery 924. Ellie Siskind, Sofiya Inger, Elise Schweitzer, and Courtland Blade all showed top-notch work there, while Pete Brown's Blind deserves an honorable mention.

2. Susan Hodgin: ...dreamed and not perceived, Harrison Center for the Arts

This January show at the Harrison Center was sublime, not merely beautiful. Her painting "Sunrise Climb on Mt. Baldy" shows what an MRI scan of a mountain might look like. That is, the painting seems to depict the skeletal understructure of a mountain. Under a summit that seemed infinitely far away, you could see blinding light contrasting spectacularly with murky shadow. Reading Edmund Burke's "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful" might give you some idea of what Hodgin was after here. But her work needs no verbal scaffolding: such is its power.

1. TURF: IDADA Art Pavillion

TURF, part of this city's Super Bowl madness, featured 22 art installations, filling the nooks and crannies of the Old Indianapolis City Hall's. Holly Streekstra's "Step on this Side of the Curtain" was a standout for me both for its accessibility and novelty. In this recreation of a Victorian parlor, complete with an audible, archival recording of a séance designed to contact the soul of Harry Houdini, you might have questioned whether or not you were dreaming. But the Art Pavilion, realized by the hard work of IDADA, was no dream. It happened here, in Indianapolis.

Writer Arts, Faith & Equity

Having lived and worked in Indy on and off since 1977, and currently living in Carmel, I've seen the city change a great deal. I love covering the arts in all its forms, and the places where the arts and broader cultural issues intersect.

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