Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Solos 2010 at the Arlington Arts Center

The Arlington Arts Center hosts work from six leading mid-Atlantic artists in its Spring Solos exhibition. Filling a room, Mia Feuer's beautiful wreckage easily attracts a visitor's eye.  Steven Pearson's acrylic paintings replicate with bright colors the irresistible pull of a Blackberry to the message-addicted.  You can easily appreciate these works if you quickly stroll through the Arts Center.  But the works that contemporary art experts Rebecca Jones and Henry Thaggert have selected for this exhibition also relate to each other in subtle ways.  To fully appreciation this exhibition, see the works in relation to each other.

Rachel Schmidt's story-room is an affective counterpoint to Mia Feuer's massive industrial installation. Schmidt's story-room arranges mainly objects that have clear meaning in everyday life.  A chair is for sitting.  On opening night, a person sat on a chair in one of Schmidt's story-settings and made a cellphone call.  The person seemed oblivious to the abstract worm of thought that grew from the back of the chair up onto the wall.  At the same time, the person absorbed in telephone conversation seemed to be in a world other than his actual circumstance: sitting on an artist's artwork and talking on his cellphone with the artist looking on from across the room.  Talking with other onlookers, Schmidt readily embraced the caller's behavior as part of her work.  Totally brilliant.  If this event was staged, it was staged very well.  The intimate, personal, associations in Schmidt's story-room present creation and destruction on a equally true scale as that of Mia Feuer's installation.

John James Anderson's display of D.C. fire hydrant information has formal parallels with some of Steven Pearson's work.  The geometric patterning of streets in some of Anderson's panels distantly echo the networks in some of Pearson's paintings.  Anderson also arranged images of individual fire hydrants into large, rectangular grids.  Like in Pearson's Gaining Momentum and Daily Paintings panels, the rectangular grid pushes against the insistently individual and idiosyncratic grid elements.  No two fire hydrants look the same.

Water is an undercurrent in this exhibition.  The saving water of fire hydrants in John James Anderson's installation becomes holy water associated with the shrines in Rachel Schmidt's story-room. Part of that story is also water that overflows and sinks a boat.  Ana B. Hernandez's Antibodies floats above the room, a cloud raining blood-red threads.  Gregory Thielker's paintings work through car windshields in the rain.  Thielker explains:
When the seams open in the verisimilitude of our experience, we take note of how or why we perceive in the manner that we do.  In the case of driving, the abstraction and distortion of water are indexical to the windshield (as smoke can be traced to fire).  The result is that painting can summon a pre-verbal experience -- slipping outside of static referents and into a gestalt of sensation, both fixed and fluid.
As a person who wears glasses most of the time, Thielker's paintings reminded me of the universality of that disability.  You may see differently.  Go to this exhibition and allow yourself the freedom to make sense of it.

The exhibition opened on Friday, April 16, and runs through June 5, 2010.  Admission, as always at the Arlington Arts Center, is free.  Those in the standard workweek grind can take advantage of the Arts Center's Saturday hours, 11am to 5pm.

The soundtrack for the above video is thanks to Tab & Anitek.  The soundtrack is Time Warp {Interlude} {feat. Scootie} from Tab & Anitek's freely available album, Traveling in Stereo.

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