November 10, 2011

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Jan Chenoweth and Roger Halligan are currently featuring drawings at their Front Gallery on Rossville Avenue. Seven artists present a variety of styles in which detail work figures prominently.

Tom Spleth’s large abstract ink and wash pieces can grab one’s attention for their dramatic formal presentations, but once attention has engaged, there emerges both nuances of technique and stunning effects. Spleth’s “NY Ink” series suggests intense action and, perhaps, a kinship to Eastern forms of ink drawing. Some of these drawings feature different permutations of large X’s with other broad strokes, and although these figures create interest, they also serve the aesthetic function of demarcating the larger field into asymmetrical areas where a good deal of aesthetic play presents some fascinating details, including three-dimensional effects.

At the other end of the size spectrum, Valerie Leuth presents a series of drawings, all four by four inches. Her six pieces have a common element of composition that involves tiny black-and-white circles of various sizes within this very small range. These elements serve to enhance a kind of rainbow palette of bright colors in several of these pieces, with a geometric emphasis throughout. Leuth’s “Phantom Stream” resembles a stairway spilling colors, converging the natural with the surreal. Her pictures possess charm and intricacy with thought-provoking compositions.

Rather larger in size, Andy Moon Wilson’s four drawings are all ten by ten inches, and they also feature intense colors and geometric play. Circles are inscribed in squares in various ways. One suggests a mandala; another “hides” geometric lines in a field of tiny, brightly colored forms that also include small, black figures. Close examination of these drawings yields more discovery. The interplay of line and color tends towards such “busyness” that one cannot take in all the details on first view, but that first view suggests that there is more. Substance of composition here engages deeply.

Complexity of composition gets foreshadowed in Mark Hosford’s “Rorschach” series that now sees its premiere at the Front Gallery. The famous “Ink Blot” figures developed as a psychological diagnostic tool by folding paper with ink inside. The unfolded paper showed randomized and symmetrical abstracts used as a field for imaginative projections by interviewees. I pity the psychologist who encounters Hosford’s compositions. His whimsical weirdness exploits the symmetrical style of this design into a kind of figural mapping.

However, Hosford is sure to include symmetrical features into his symmetrical placements of fanciful figures. This work has an explicitly surreal character. Hosford’s “Garden of Squirtly Delight” suggests a connection with Bosch, but the figures here often show such fanciful strangeness that this work approaches the abstract. There is aesthetic innovation in these compositions. Bring your sense of humor.

Other forms of surrealism get mixed into drawings of more realistic orientation by Brandon Cordrey, Michael Krueger and Jeff Morton.

Cordrey’s “Too Proud To Be Moved” shows a bird that resembles a cardinal perched on a branch. At the end of this branch, somehow there has been caught a large enough globule of water to contain a fish. His “But I Waited For You” with eight small panels shows a bird overlooking eight stages of development from a tadpole to a frog. This is possibly an old surreal joke, but well rendered and amusing.

Michael Krueger’s drawings feature a setting of a rock thrust into the sky. This setting supports a whimsical diversity of figures and objects. A soldier, a self-portrait (?), a tall shelf unit (“Highboy”), and, most intricately, “Death Sticks.” His technique involves fine detail and his concepts connected to the rock show a surreal range: The soldier plays music, the furniture hearkens back to the old surreal, and the “death sticks” suggest primitivism, also an old surreal trend. There’s a suggestion of the cartoon intersecting with the “object d’art”, a sense of colorful fun.

Chattanooga artist Jeff Morton brings a series of “Kudzu” drawings, and “Things That Fall From The Sky”, including “Mosquito Disc” and “Mosquito Wave”. These drawings show intricacy in a larger context, humorous and surreal. His “Bite, Burn, Trap, Snag” is a kind of concrete poem, words in a square of entrapment. This show stimulates and inspires.

The Drawing Show

Runs through November 23

Front Gallery

1800 Rossville Ave. • Ste. 1

(423) 243-3778


November 10, 2011

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