Visual Art

Next in the Gallery

Herron School of Art

Through Feb. 10 Herron School of Art's most recent installment of Next in the Gallery is curator David Russick's continuing curatorial adventure: exhibit the work of artists he likes for the fun of it, and edify audiences along the way. As reported in NUVO last November, Herron Gallery will close its current location in anticipation of Herron School of Art's move to the IUPUI campus this year. Thus, the gallery's series of exhibitions, overlapping in two-week increments, featuring contemporary work by local and national artists.

All of this brings us back to the current installment, including the work of Anita Giddings, Paul Lurie, John Pittman, Mike Smith, Karl Wirsum, and, by way of a video documentary, Hans Richter. Russick may or may not have selected the current artists for some thematic connection, for none obviously exists: and yet, there's a polished confidence to the work.

For those new to viewing art, Russick provides an accessible introduction to the work of career artists, ironically by way of the wisdom of Hans Richter, the German artist who was one of DaDa's pioneers. The Richter documentary includes a sampling of Richter's experimental films (Richter painted, made films, wrote and taught), some of which played with ideas of intention and spontaneity. As he put it, he gave chance a chance. When an artist attempts to balance chance and order, Richter has said, conflict is created. "Follow the conflict," and art is born.

Russick as a curator seems to tend towards artists who do that: follow formal ideas into the realm of chance. The current Next in the Gallery artists take their ideas to their formal limits, following a vision to its polished extreme. John Pittman paints in strict, basic geometries, making simple lines beautiful for their precision. Karl Wirsum's acrylic on wood figures are stylistic whimsy and yet incorporate a multiplicity of ideas. Mike Smith's enamel-on-steel sculptures are curvaceous and yet controlled, and anything but static. Anita Giddings' "Timepiece" is also carefully crafted: a boat is shrouded in fabric, landscapes photo-transferred onto fabric hang around the boat, inviting us to explore preconceived notions of perception and the flow of time. And finally, Paul Lurie's panoramic giclee prints of barns are steely and yet lovely; their large format allows the crispness of the structures to come to life against blue skies. Yet one gets the sense these are not about homey ideas of landscape, but instead explore more formal aesthetic ideas of form, color and design.

Ultimately, as Richter said, the purpose of art, for the artist, is to "follow one's visions." If an artist is brave enough to do that, authentic art usually follows.

The work of Smith and Giddings, both local artists, and Pittman, will remain on exhibit through Jan. 27 and the work of Lurie, Wirsum and Richter will remain on exhibit through Feb. 10 at Herron Gallery, Herron School of Art & Design, 1701 N. Pennsylvania St., www.herron.iupui.edu. Call 920-2413 for information.

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