Visual Art Review

IDADA Group Show

Stutz Art Gallery

Through Feb. 25

Ah: The Group Show. It comes in many shapes and sizes: a few artists or a couple dozen; first-come, first-serve; hand picked or paid to enter; juried or non-juried; thematic, non-thematic, emblematic. 'Night Light #1' by John J. Domont

The Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association, a somewhat fledgling organization dedicated to furthering the downtown visual arts, presented its first group show last weekend (continuing through Feb. 25) at the also somewhat fledgling Stutz Art Gallery, to the tune of an estimated 200 guests: testament, perhaps, to the organization's mission - or the fact that arts openings are "the place to be." Or maybe both. It could also have something to do with the fact that more than two dozen artists are included - and each, it's assumed, has a following.

Attendance ponderings aside, what kind of show is this first annual IDADA Members Exhibition? It's juried, first of all - by Vance Bell of Ball State University. The goal of the exhibit, no doubt, is to further IDADA's prime focus, which, according to a press release, is "to foster the creation and marketing of unique and original art." Never mind the redundancy - it's a great cause; but the question begs to be answered: were all IDADA member artists or member gallery artists considered? Certainly, a number of known names show up here (see complete list, below); but there are others who are conspicuously absent, and some of these are of the 'unique/original" classification.

The exhibition includes work from tried and true genres mostly, from painting to sculpture, and one truly unique offering, genre-wise: a photo montage by Timothy Gray, "red BARN Installation," illustrating a project of a group of architecture students. Otherwise, the surprises here have more to do with artists breaking out of their own known molds. A few cases in point: Kyle Ragsdale's "Scape I," an abstract landscape in enamel on a slab of birch wood (no long-limbed ghostly figures here). The last major show I can recall of John Detweiler was geometric formal abstraction - here, he offers stylized figures. Artur Silva contributes "Baseball #3," somewhat of a departure from his stenciled paintings. This piece still includes type, but here it runs behind an abstracted figure in a giclee print format.

No doubt there are other departures; certainly there are familiar faces to those of us who frequent the downtown galleries and studio openings. But there are also some recycled pieces - that is, previously exhibited art from shows mounted in galleries in the past year or so. The surprise has more to do with the more traditional offerings - the occasional floral or landscape that is lovely enough but speaks more to a Hoosier Salon crowd. Again, this is only in terms of IDADA's mission - which, as we've already identified, has to do with "unique and original" art. (Should we take this to mean progressive?)

Overall, as group shows go, the strength here is in quality rather than originality: downtown Indianapolis boasts many accomplished visual artists whose work deserves to be seen - and, for that matter, bought. This is a fine introduction to some of them.

IDADA Member Juried Exhibition artists include: Rosanna Hardin Hall, Mark Timmis, Caroline Mecklin, Ardis Harsche, Judith Levy, Colleen Lauter, Mary Lou Dooley Waller, Nhat Tran, Victoria Gillieron, Casey Roberts, Rebecca Lyon, Blythe Hager, John Domont, William A. Rasdell, Constance Edwards Scopelitis, Timothy Gray, Donna Nolan, Jerry Points, John Ross, Jerry Mannell, Dane Sauer, John Detweiler, Michael Smith, Kyle Ragsdale, Quincy Owens, AnneMarie Pankratz and Artur Silva.

The show runs through Feb. 25 at the Stutz Art Gallery, 1005 N, Senate Ave. Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call 833-7000 for information or visit www.stutzartgallery.com. For more information about IDADA, visit www.idada.info.

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