Visual Arts

Compositions - Color and Clay

Editions Limited Gallery

Through Sunday Editions Limited Gallery, relocated within the past year to Broad Ripple - its original home when the gallery opened in 1969 - can be counted upon for accessible works of art by artists who have a strong showing in more mainstream fine art galleries nationally. True to its name, Editions Limited offers fine prints of well-known artists in addition to original works. The gallery maintains a location connection, though, in exhibiting a handful of Indianapolis-based artists (Lois Main Templeton among them), and connecting with the community through event sponsorships and the like. Among its stable of "local" artists (with no provincial connotation intended), the gallery is currently exhibiting the work of Tim Christensen and Barbara Zech.

Christensen's broad-scoped selection of paintings comprise the lion's share of the exhibition, while Zech's ceramic works comprise a small area - even smaller now that most of the works have been sold and removed from the walls. For this reason, it's difficult to get a grasp of the totality of Zech's offering here - and yet, what remains is along the lines of what Zech has been showing around town lately: that is to say, non-functional ceramic pieces that render the clay as a three-dimensional canvas for Zech's abstract explorations.

Zech, who participated in a number of shows in Indianapolis related to last spring's NCECA clay extravaganza, is almost a household name now on the gallery circuit. Her works are easily identifiable for their chunky solidity and earthy consistency. In the Editions show, Zech introduces a series of wall pieces that can best be described as rounded slabs of clay swirled into doughy circles, each one with a unique color and texture (one of my favorites resembles snakeskin). They can also be likened to squirts from an oversized pastry tube. Her most compelling piece, at least intellectually, may be her "Pierced Vessel," a blockbuster of a vase manipulated to resemble metal, ripped through as if it were torn by bullets.

Christensen, on the other hand, offers ironically softer images in the form of paint and pastel. The Indianapolis-based artist experiments with what he alludes to as the reinterpretation of things - these things being the human figure and its imposition on architectural forms, or vice versa. Christensen pulls off his aesthetic experiments more successfully in some areas than others, like any good visual scientist. Christensen's strength may be in his use of palette to make otherwise staid imagery come alive. "Treescape by the Lake" is an example; Christensen employs his own sense of color to enhance the landscape. The slip of lake would be a compositional afterthought in the upper right corner of the large canvas if it weren't for the brilliant green-blue that gives it both depth and light behind chopstick trees.

Christensen's figures are also lovely, with Matisse faces caressed by kaleidoscopic colors that just manage to stand behind the line between interesting and over-the-top. "Blue Day Nude" may be his finest example of this; the figure has no (visible) arms and wears a surprised expression. The blue background is carefully cut by a line running diagonal and across the woman's thighs.

Christensen's experiments with structural forms pointing to a softer center of suggested still lifes - a trio of round fruitlike objects, for example - seem less arresting somehow, as if the electric oranges compete too much with the lines that emanate behind them. Perhaps it's simply a matter of balance - or of viewer taste.

Christensen's "Sepia Nude/Expectation" on the other hand, for all its quiet subtlety, is almost a show stealer for its timelessness. The delicate and yet confident pastel is perfectly framed, set in an oversized white mat (playing to another of Editions Limited's strengths: fine framing).

While this duo of artists may not seem in harmony stylistically or thematically, both more or less play to their strengths and as such make for a fine showing. Compositions - Color and Clay is on view through the weekend at Editions Limited, 838 E. 65th St. Call 466-9940 for hours and information.


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