It"s an ironic truth that sometimes the most spontaneous and creative expressions spring from the requests or assignments of others, rather than being conceived solely from one"s own fertile imagination. Joanna Taft, director of the Harrison Gallery, was a midwife of sorts when she invited 20 artists to interpret "the landscape" for the exhibit Scapes. While it is apparent that many of the artists brought in thematically applicable works from their own archives, in most cases, the artists who took on the challenge rose to it. It is nearly springtime, after all, and fertility is already floating on warm March breezes.
"Big Country" by Kyle Ragsdale is part of the current exhibit at Harrison Gallery.
In the case of Scapes, which was birthed out of Taft"s desire to give us an escape from winter"s frozen landscape, artists who "don"t do landscapes" are joined by artists who do, even if unwittingly. An abstract painting, after all, is evocative of the earth"s many colors, and the sky"s bearing down upon it - or vice versa. I was easily struck by the magnificence of color and the range of interpretations in this collection. The gallery"s brightly painted leprechaun-green floor gave the work an extra jolt instead of overpowering it. Christos Koutsouras" "Seascape" (from 2000) is moody and ephemeral and speaks to the depths of consciousness, while Jason Poteet"s "Brooklyn," hung nearby, is more of a conceptual scape, with Miro-like figuration applied to what one assumes are buildings. Andy Short"s even more playful "Waiting for the Sun to Rise," a floor-to-ceiling-spanning sculpture composed of window screening and a long plastic tube, mimics a budding plant. Amy Falstrom"s two pieces are more contemplative and vast in their skyborn imaginings, such as a frenetic squiggle (rather, tornado). In one of the only almost directly figurative pieces, Jan Zoya"s "Trust" is also moody with its lightly sketched turtle moving across the canvas beneath four moons and layers of neutral color. While there are very few truly traditional landscapes here, the handful of exceptions are pleasant enough and did much to add even more light to an early spring day Ö and the promise of more to come. Scapes closed March 23 at the Harrison Gallery in the Harrison Center for the Arts, 1505 N. Delaware St., 514-6787.