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REFORM: A HABITAT FOR HUMANITY EXHIBIT” IS only up at the AVA gallery on Frazier until Mar. 31—but that still gives you a few days to get to the Northshore and not only check out works from local artists, but also purchase them.
Here’s why you should consider doing that: the purchase price supports the artist, Habitat and AVA in equal portions and you get a great new piece for your budding collection.
AVA’s Lauren Goforth explains that the idea for “ReForm” came up because “there are lots of artists in Chattanooga working with repurposed materials” (see, for example, The Pulse’s arts feature in the Mar. 20 issue on Ashley Hamilton), alongside a proposal from Habitat to do a joint fundraiser.
“The idea of the exhibit, to show the relationship of art and social change, also helps to highlight the goals of ReStore,” says Goforth, referring to Habitat’s retail outlet at 1150 E. 14th St., which accepts donations of building materials and appliances and “recycles” them to new projects. “There are many people who don’t really understand how ReStore works. People have to contribute volunteer hours to be eligible for free materials from ReStore. It’s a great example of the community helping itself.”
The artists featured in the exhibit, Adam Kirby, Stephen Nemecek, Andrew Nigh, Carrie Pendergrass, Karen Rudolph, Ann Steverson and Conrad Tengler, all volunteered their work. “Some of it was created with materials from ReStore, and some already existed,” Goforth says. The pieces unsold at the end of the AVA show will be put into a silent auction at the upcoming Habitat fundraising gala.
Visiting the exhibit as a visual art lover, but not an expert, I was struck by the quality of the work on view. To my eye, any of the pieces would be right at home in galleries in New York and Los Angeles.
Andrew Nigh is represented by two works, both triptychs. “Spiralic Apogee” on reclaimed plywood and “Wield” on reclaimed plywood with aniline dye, and epoxy are part of the same series, which seems to explore spirals, wheels, spokes and the relationship between them when they are separated. Perhaps I’ve got the new “Cosmos” series on the brain, but both these pieces said “physics” to me; the ever-evolving chain of creation, breaking apart, and yes, reforming.
My favorite pieces in the show were also part of a series, this one by Karen Rudolph, whose work I have long admired. “Crop Circle 1-4” are four mixed-media wall pieces made from metal and wood, and “Crop Circle 5” is a larger piece using the same materials. The gorgeous, lustrous, sea green color beckons from across the room. When you get closer, you realize that the circles embedded in the piece are metal can lids, and that the equally arresting seaweed brown color emanating from them is also the color of rust. Again, for me, this evoked nature: The power of the sea to repurpose man’s careless, poisonous discards and make them beautiful.
Carrie Pendergrass makes a charming and poignant comment on a similar relationship with her “We’re All In This Together” (mixed media with wood, used Starbucks gift cards and acrylic). Two brightly colored birds perch or fly across a skyline composed of buildings made of Starbucks cards. Message received and appreciated.
Two large pieces by Adam Kirby make the most direct connection with ReStore. I rather adored “Framed Construction: Sink”, which uses an actual, modern sink. The contrast between the smooth, sculpted curves of the sink (the parts meant to be seen), contrasted with the “dangly bits” attached below (which allow the parts above to function) made me chuckle. Sound familiar?
The smallest, but by no means the least of the exhibit’s pieces is Conrad Tengler’s “#6”, created from a found railroad spike and forged. The immediate impression, based on the piece’s curve, is of a scorpion preparing to strike, but then its segments begin to recall a human spine. Fascinating and fun.
Find the time to drop in on this show while it’s still up—and if you can, support art, artists and Habitat by allowing one of these pieces to inhabit your home.
“ReForm: A Habitat for Humanity Exhibit”
through Mar. 31 at AVA Gallery
30 Frazier Ave.
Open Tues-Sat 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (423) 265-4282, avarts.org