Visual art

Group Show

Ruschman Gallery

Through April 5

In Betty Scarpino's sculpture "Response to Old Devotions," the curves of a delicately shaped round of wood resemble the intricate folds of an ear. Like the cochlea but not like the cochlea, the sculpture is its own work of beauty and also the image of one. 'From Within Our Own Bodies' by Betty Scarpino is part of the 'Group Show' at Ruschman Gallery.

Art is like that: Often inspired by what occurs naturally (and beautifully) in our world, it can celebrate visually the best of our imaginations. Metaphorically speaking, it may be an attempt to get at some truth - then again, it may simply be an expression, a new way of looking at something.

Scarpino's sculpture, on view as part of Group Show at Ruschman Art Gallery, helps amplify the exhibition Whispers to Shouts: Indiana Women Who Create Art at the Indiana State Museum (reviewed in last week's NUVO). It so happens that 10 of the 18 contemporary artists included in the ISM exhibition are represented by Ruschman, who took the opportunity to show additional work of those artists in this Group Show offering.

The ISM's strength is in the contemporary art and Ruschman capitalizes on this. While some of the art has been seen before, it's worth viewing for the second (or the first) time (as the case may be). As group shows go, this one's strength is in its cohesiveness in addition to the quality of the work. It doesn't claim any lofty aims; it's simply Ruschman's nod to an important effort - and a bit of marketing savvy.

In a word, and on its own, this show works. There's a synergy between Scarpino's work and the equally sensual bronzes of Jeanne Hutchinson. Hutchinson's "Torso" and other pieces, like Scarpino's, also both resemble and distort natural forms. "Torso" is curvaceous and both anatomically correct and intentionally incorrect - and no less sensual for this. A generous slope undulates where one would expect a breast or a shoulder, reminding us that sensuality has its own essence outside of prescribed notions. Such is the nature of art, after all - offering fresh glimpses into truths and the fabrications that pare those truths down to their essence.

In addition to Hutchinson and Scarpino, other artists include Georgia Strange (sculpture), Martha Donovan Opdahl and Anne McKenzie Nickolson (textiles). Nancy Morgan Barnes, Jane Everhart, Betsy Stirratt and Mary Lou Dooley Waller offer paintings, and Peg Fierke exhibits both prints and drawings.

Ruschman's strength is in his eye for artists whose work withstands the test of time. These are career artists who take their artmaking seriously, and have honors and vitas to show for it. The title Group Show understates the show's weight - solid, accomplished, thoughtful work by 10 artists who are women.

Group Show, featuring gallery artists participating in the Indiana State Museum exhibition Whispers to Shouts: Indiana Women Who Create Art, is on view through April 5 at Ruschman Art Gallery, 948 N. Alabama St. Call 634-3114 or visit for more information.