"Susan Hodgin & Ryan Gothrup
Through June 25
In Susan Hodgin’s painting “Beacon,” purple is the dominant force, from eggplant to indigo and all light-filled points between and beyond. The resulting seascape seems secondary, and yet this is what brings the color alive and gives the painting meaning as a symbolic utopia — a place Hodgin visits often, and intentionally, in her work.
Hodgin, whose paintings are on view alongside the work of glass artist Ryan Gothrup at Pivot Gallery (formerly the Stutz Art Gallery), conjures such dreamlike realms with kaleidoscopic flourishes, at once chaotic and controlled, ethereal and earthy. Gothrup’s glasswork is lovely in its own way and similarly balanced: His glass vessels are saturated with color, their forms both vehicle and companion.
Gothrup’s glasswork departs from the conventional with his hanging weavings of glass rods (some of these exhibited before at the Art Center). Color is contained here: “Blue Cane Weaving” is a cascade of glass secured and hung like window shades, but decidedly more delicate. These offer a Zen-like simplicity, offset by freestanding works such as “Organic Cane Vessel,” which picks up the candy stripe patterns of the glass rods and sends them scattershot through the egg yolk-hued glass.
Similarly, Hodgin’s “Excavate” is brilliantly alive: A horizontal landscape includes a field of color, this time with greater contrasts; clusters of ovoid forms trip across the surface in tribes of like color — orange, yellow, blue and green. A crane extends its claw, the symbolic center point.
The connection between the artists is brought to bear not just in the pairing of their work, but in the function of the show — which is touted as collaboration. While each artist contributes work done solo, a handful of pieces are joint efforts; he adds glass to her painting, or she adds painting to his glass. Something happens in the process; a departure point is reached for each of them. For Gothrup, glass is broken: Clear shards of it are carefully molded to the edges and face of a Hodgin painting, while Hodgin’s painting shifts from contemplative to playful, moving almost completely into abstraction.
In “Dialogue,” Gothrup contributes glass vessels rather than pieces; these are placed inside the painting on shelves carved out of the wood panel frame. This larger collaboration, like the title piece, “Exchange,” seems more strenuous, as if the artists emerge from their quiet places to assert a bolder but not more profound aesthetic, like a child asserting its new-found individuality.
Both Hodgin and Gothrup teach at the Indianapolis Art Center (and in the interest of full disclosure, Hodgin is a former teacher of mine). Hodgin’s last local show, at Galerie Penumbra, followed the same themes of nature abstracted by color, with the ovoid forms suggesting all manner of flora as well as pure shape. Both artists continue to employ color brilliantly and cheerfully while maintaining a seriousness of purpose. Then as now, this is the stuff of dreams.
Exchange: a collaboration of glass and painting is on view at Pivot Gallery, 1005 N. Senate Ave., in the Stutz Building. Call 317-536-0047 or visit www.pivotgallery.com for more information.