"Amy Falstrom: Tangible Mystery
Harrison Center Gallery
Through Aug. 26
Amy Falstrom, a member of the 2005 class of Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellows, did what many of her predecessors did: She took a trip to find some inspiration. The results of this work inspired from afar — in this case, Maine — are on view in the exhibition Tangible Mystery, at the Harrison Center Gallery. Was Falstrom’s work changed by the experience? From an onlooker’s perspective, not fundamentally; and yet, this stepping out and away can be fruitful to an artist’s growth.
Falstrom’s new work, on view with a few slightly older paintings, are consistent with her moody, nature-inspired, somewhat abstracted approach — at once dreamy and concrete. Hers are the colors of largely unmanipulated nature: mustard orange, dusky blue and hazy green form the core of her palette, rendering a misty place where nature isn’t infused with sunlight, but rather the light and delight of its own being, and Falstrom’s delight in its being there.
The departure for Falstrom comes in the form of less abstraction in some instances — more obvious references to nature — and the use of figures. The smallish “Flower Mountain” is one such: a less moody landscape with a central image and a distinct if distant horizon line. A muted gold hill burgeons with subtly colored, oversized flowers, as if it were a still life both created and found by the artist. There’s a suggestion of the fantastical that Falstrom explores more boldly in her figurative works. “Flower Mountain,” though, epitomizes the artist’s delicacy with both the recalling of awe-inspired reflections and her ability to lay them down. The horizon line bumps along the background, a cloud-laden sky above it, but none of the clouds are white, really; they’re shades of water.
Contrast this with “Blind Juggler,” a large-format painting with a surreal narrative, reminiscent of the late Doris Vlasek Hails, who drew from a similarly surreal stock of images come to life. Here, a harnessed dog watches obediently, its tether loose on the ground, as the unseeing juggler tosses balls of colored string into the air. A mountain stands behind (“Flower Mountain” from afar?), and a dove hovers skyward, wings at full span, but wisplike; next to the juggler, a birdcage sits empty while its freed bird perches on a swing hung from some unseen source. The sky contains characteristically Falstrom pods or orbs of color, creating an almost patterned background, again, like water, over a blue-toned sky. Small flowers reference nature — that core inspiration come to light again.
Falstrom’s prints reflect this same aesthetic and narrative line: winged eyes, ears suspended in air and lips, just a whisper open, floating in skies beneath one mountainous cloud. In “Watching an Elm,” an eye cradled in a shell gazes at a leafless tree casting a sliver of shadow. Here, nature sees itself and is delighted — Falstrom herself is witness.
Tangible Mystery is on view at the Harrison Gallery, Harrison Center for the Arts, 1505 N. Delaware, through Aug. 26. Call 317-396-3886 for information or visit www.harrisoncenter.org.