AVA’s new “All Member” and “Traces” shows are better than ever.
During the rest of August, Chattanoogans and visitors will probably have no better opportunity to explore the state of the arts here than to spend some time at AVA Gallery. The “All Member Salon Show” and “Traces” (associates students’ show) feature more than 50 works that span the stylistic spectrum.
Lauren Goforth has proven exceptionally competent at housing so many pieces in this gallery’s limited space, with an eye to sub-grouping members’ efforts in related styles. The art/business dichotomy treads among “aesthetic” works that seek new stylistic expressions, more purely decorative or traditional fine arts pieces, and efforts that manage a happy confluence of both.
Some innovative painting styles that stand out right away include pieces by Devon Kronenberg (“Alton Park”), Mary Beth Demeter (“Arise”), Jake Kelly, [“Medusa (After Caravaggio)”], and Renel Plouffe (“Cote”).
Actually, Demeter and Plouffe share a kind of common motif in that both show a “reflective” line across the surface with quasi-symmetrical images above and below this line. Demeter’s approach presents an impasto landscape in such a variety of vibrant colors that the “landscape” itself becomes a virtual abstraction. Viewers’ attention is likely engaged by the dynamism of paint and color.
Plouffe brings a cityscape reflected and his use of color is quite busy, suggesting the intensity of city life. Also, background strokes for sky and water are both intricate and differentiated. This very engaging painting has something else in common with Demeter; how an impressionist impulse emerges as an expressionist product. Their subjects emphasize geometric abstraction, and their very imaginative use of paint brings attention much more to the execution of the medium than ostensible subjects. These works show the essence of the expressionist impulse.
Devon Kronenberg subtly engages with this expressionist impulse in his black-and-white portrayal of a water tower, which appears to be black, white, and gray—but this “gray” is actually developed from tiny black-and-white dots that together manage to present an “illusion” of gray. Also, his background looks black, but this is nuanced with fine white lines, suggesting a rectilinear geometric abstract. Kronenberg is becoming known for his subtle and adventurous approach to painting.
Jake Kelly’s “Medusa” uses resin to distribute the intense colors of printer’s ink over a cut-out aluminum form. Again, execution tends to overshadow subject, though his subject is not without interest. Viewers tend to appreciate the medium, and they later refer to Caravaggio.
Four sculptors present a variety of subjects, all with excellent technique. Roses Taylor’s “Feeling Frisky” (bronzed horse), Eric Davidson’s “Barn Owl” (Tennessee marble), Turry Lindstrum’s “Complexity” (helical steel plate) and Marise Fransolino’s “Untitled” (raku) can happily occupy museum space. They all participate in what have become various traditions, with each presenting impressive execution that folks will strive to buy.
There are simply too many works to discuss in detail, but all this surely promises more to viewers who can plan to spend some time at AVA.
“The Venus of Chattanooga,” this show’s sole nude, by Daniel AJ Swanger (oil on canvas) appears fairly voluptuous and attractively rendered with an interesting palette. She holds a hand mirror, but this mirror’s surface is directed outward through her window to the “aquarium” background. This lends an allegorical quality to this presentation. There is also an ambiguity as to whether this gesture may also be ironic: “esprit de Chattanooga?”
Alan Shuptrine has developed a signature style. His watercolor landscape “Spring House,” with a handmade frame, both accurate and evocative, brings a recognition that rural scenes still engage.
Of the photographs on view, Catherine Stetson’s “A Sittin’ and a Chillin’” drew admiration from one of Chattanooga’s most prominent art lovers. There is a piece of prose text concerning San Francisco’s summers, but this appears layered with both urban and industrial forms into a complex, seamless image.
Another innovative piece by Marc Boyson (mostly ink), “I’ve Never Been Here Before”, presents a minutely intricate geometrical typography. Beware of eyestrain! Surreal works also appear announced in “surrealism” by Littia Thompson, a fun piece collecting surreal forms that also has the expressionist quality of naming itself at the risk of an ironic typicality. Another form of surrealism may be found in Holly Van Winkle’s “Iconic Recollection”, a mixed-media portrait that achieves an archetypal quality. This shows brilliant student work, one of the leading pieces in “Traces.”
Altogether, “Traces” features some very interesting works. A real standout (very tall), Mercedes Llanos’ “Marith”, is a complex, textured figure with background imbued with a mysterious quality, prompting questions of both subject and method (mixed media). This work reaches a sublime strangeness, again, a sense of the archetypal. Ann Marie Miller’s “Lapse,” a hundred-second video explores our awareness. Connie Millsaps’ two-parter “Connie’s” consists of a mattress pad and an expressive poem that invests this object with memory. However personal or archetypal, these works embrace surreal methods with telling affect.
An interesting surreal example in the Salon Show may be found in Chester Martin’s “For the Love of Chocolate.” An inscribed message “to Arcania” emerges from this flying labyrinth, with other elements that promote archetypal contemplation.
Speaking of contemplation, Laura Cleary’s “Untitled” (mixed media) develops an interesting abstraction. Also, Jan Burleson presents an ambitious abstract.
There’s a lot of good work here. Take the time to look closely.
30 Frazier Ave.