"Herron Faculty Exhibition

Herron School of Art and Design

Through Aug. 26

The effort of putting on a faculty show is a good idea — and good business — for any art school; and Herron School of Art and Design, the product of a lengthy and colorful history (it first took shape as part of the Art Association of Indianapolis in 1883), has much to brag about. Since its early days, Herron has boasted high-achieving artists, many of whom have gone on to achieve national and international recognition.

On view in Herron’s main galleries, Herron’s latest faculty show, simply (and conventionally) titled Herron Faculty Exhibition, by name alone, suggests an obligatory exercise — yet this is a delightful hodge-podge of work. Herron’s faculty ranges the spectrum of styles, from modernist to conceptual, and they work in most media: ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and furniture design. That said, there’s nothing so progressive as to be ground-breaking here, neither is there anything overtly political. It is, simply put, well-executed work — among the best I’ve seen in the city all year — occasionally provocative, never meaningless and often gorgeous to look at.

David Russick’s playfully conceptual “All Kinds of Time,” acrylic on canvas, is a behemoth 5-foot square painting depicting a series of intricately designed bands that form a sort of window. In one corner is a mustard-colored pod; the word PAINT adorns the diagonally opposite corner, the word encroached upon by paint.

Less meticulously realized, Andrew Winship’s “Ode to a Trivial Life” is another whopper at 80-inches-by-72-inches. A tormented-looking male nude, with two women behind him, is surrounded by foreboding images: a fang-baring viper, a sneaking monkey. The words “Splendor” and “lie” suggest the obvious conflict, while an animated cartoon figure projection struts across the top.

More staid but lovely to behold, Mark Richardson’s “Uratati Beach,” an oval ceramic platter, offers a textured surface that barely obscures a pandemonium of abstractions, subtle and yet alive in a pastel and earth-toned color scheme.

Veteran printmaker/painter Peg Fierke is still concerned with repetition and pattern with “ESP (Excessive Sensory Perception),” an engaging digital print comprised of a grid of dog snouts.

Eric Nordgulen’s “Plenty” is suggestive of a space satellite, composed of a grid of aluminum, Plexiglas and lenses; the large sculpture is positioned on its side as if it just landed on the moon.

Valerie Eickmeier’s “Pangaea” is an infinitesimal mosaic of broken glass forming the blue marble of Earth on a surface composed of the same materials — as if Earth were Humpty Dumpty and someone tried to put her together again, beautiful but inherently broken.

Julie Ball’s “Bearing Fruit” is evocative of primal creativity. Ball’s tree is composed of a log with bronze pods embedded in it, its trunk a steel claw-like pedestal.

These are just a few examples — a generous 35 works are included here, offering a perfect way to while away an afternoon.

Herron Faculty Show is on view through Aug. 26 at Herron School of Art and Design, 735 W. New York St. Summer gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. A closing reception will be held on Aug. 26. For information, call 317-278-9418.