"William F. Brown and Macy Dorf
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Through March 16
University galleries have the unique opportunity of involving students in organizing and presenting exhibitions. Often, those students are gaining valuable knowledge about how galleries — non-commercial ones, anyway — work. Students enrolled in a gallery studies course at the University of Indianapolis helped to install the current exhibition on view in the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center; and while there’s no obvious evidence of student involvement, the placement of pictures and sculpture allowed the work to stand for itself.
A dual show of the art of William F. Brown, professor of art at the University of Evansville, and Macy Dorf, a professional potter in Denver, Colo., is presented as if there were two exhibitions: one offering a near-retrospective selection of the two-dimensional works of Brown (drawings, watercolor paintings and photographs) and the other a sculpture-garden display of Dorf’s offbeat anthropomorphic ceramic figures and larger-than-life bowls.
While the work of the two artists connects only vaguely — Brown offers a few realistic watercolors of ceramic cups, lined up on shelves against a dark background, offering a segue to Brown’s pottery — the shows are a respectable complement to one another.
Brown’s “Fragmentation Series” of 8-by-10-inch photographs — presented as a group — seem to bear the inspiration for the artist’s pointillist drawings and watercolors that proceed along the next wall. The drawings are finely executed, but not perfect; they’re of the sort you might hang on your wall as the result of a sentimental attachment to a place. Brown’s renderings of an English village, a French café and a more ambitious collage of castles are almost flat despite their realistic perspective, while his “Greyhound Station” springs alive with color, the low-slung building’s reflection shimmering on the street below.
Brown’s abstract watercolors along the next wall pick up on this energy, offering the artist’s fanciful interpretations of light, “Cliché Crater” among the most stunning of these. The image seems to float under its Plexiglas frame. Meticulous and yet playfully positioned orbs drawn over swaths of subtle color call to mind the artist’s “Fragmentation” photographs, depicting the abstractions of nature: bubbles in black water, or perhaps explosions of mold.
Macy Dorf’s “Posturing” series of ceramic figures are variations on the theme: Each stands three or four feet high with slabs of clay positioned like arms on the hips. These are amusing, but Dorf’s bowls are perfectly imperfect, and magnificent. At 25-by-13-inches, a ridged bowl opens like a crater, its copper rim sneaking over the opening like the beckoning ledge of a volcano. Dorf is equally proficient using darker, moodier glazes as he is employing earthier ones. These are not functional pieces, but they are delightfully decorative.
William F. Brown: From Cliché Vere to Painting and Macy Dorf: Exteriors and Interiors are on view at the University of Indianapolis’ Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, 1400 E. Hanna Ave., through March 16. Call 317-788-3253 for more information.