Spooky Girls and Traveling Kings
A Coast to Coast show of ceramics at Elaine Erickson Gallery.
Topography rises and falls, swinging from high hills and low valleys. So it is with the exhibition Coast to Coast on view at Elaine Erickson Gallery. The work of the 12 artists here connects with the exhibition title in that they are nationally recognized, but the installation of everything from abstract plates to figurative sculptures on walls, tables and floor creates a show that meanders artistically as well as geographically.
Gerit Grimm is the exhibition’s standout artist. He offers a number of pieces that touch on mythology and snippets of narrative fantasy played out in stylized, expressive figures. This German-born artist has a playful side. Dipping into Greek mythology, Looting Leda and the Swan presents the hapless Leda and the god Zeus who has taken the form of an amorous swan. The pair is seated in a chariot where Leda registers shock as they’re hauled off by a team of four figures, their bodies bent in effort to get the thing moving. It is a small vignette and most interestingly displayed as a wall hanging, where it looks like a picture puffed out into a three-dimensional sculpture. Grimm smartly dispenses with extraneous detail such as reins, harness, et al., leaving the language of the bodies to carry the story. Kings 1 & 11 is in a similar mode: mounted royals on tubular horses pause for a moment on their way to who-knows-where, but a definite sense of adventure is afoot. Grimm can deftly capture of moment of passing drama, and the viewer is left to fill in the narrative blanks.
Ryan Myers operates in a similar manner with his sculptures of spooky girls hung on walls. Spooky, yes, but they are also self-contained and pensive. The glazes on his pieces like Sugar Skull Girl, with muted pale colors in clothes and face, and the mysteries of crunched eyes and pursed lips suggest psychological depth under the stillness of these stoneware surfaces.
The creative installation of the show’s works argues that ceramics are not just for tabletops anymore. Beth Lo’s wall-mounted K’an pulls the viewer into a bird’s-eye view, floating over a swimming pool with eight weightless swimmers gliding through lanes set off by bobbing, red and white lane dividers. Her clever use of perspective puts us into a position rarely experienced in the real world of the workout venue.
Of course, not everything is suspended on the walls. One notable tabletop piece is Beverly Mayeri’s Waterline 10. The portrait bust recalls centuries of tradition in portrait sculpture but Mayeri imprints the body with incised geometric lines, creating a grid that contrasts with the smooth naturalism of the body contours. She brings additional techniques into the mix with a sensitively painted head that looks up, rather beseechingly, from the sculpture’s chest, while on the back, painted hands move over the shoulder blades.
Other pieces emphasize abstraction such as Minkyu Lee’s wonderfully textured bowl forms, and Tom Meuninck’s richly hued plates covered with patterns, stylized animals, and shots of bright color.
You might say there is something for every taste and style in this exhibition. It’s a fun show. Elaine Erickson Gallery, one of the city’s longest-established contemporary art galleries, is not a large place but is jam-packed with pieces that make for a changeable, interesting visual journey.
Coast to Coast is on view at Elaine Erickson Gallery (207 E. Buffalo Street, Marshall Building, First Floor) through May 8, 2014.
FRIDAY, APRIL 11
UWM Arts Center Gallery
Peck School of the Arts
Theatre Building, 2nd Floor
2400 E. Kenwood Boulevard
Opening reception 5-7pm
It’s that time of year when years of studio practice result in culminating exhibitions for students earning their degrees in their respective disciplines. This exhibition presents the work of emerging artists and will be supplemented by gallery talks on Tuesday, April 15 from 4 to 6pm.
722 E. Burleigh Street
Art Bar opens a new exhibition featuring the work of Barbara Scharpf, whose rich impasto painting style, bright colors, and floral themes accent the transformation of sullen, cold winter into warm, sweet springtime.
SATURDAY, APRIL 12
One-Year Anniversary Celebration
205 Veterans Avenue, West Bend
The Museum of Wisconsin Art marks its first year in its stunning new building with a day-long celebration, beginning with morning yoga in the atrium and finishing with a musical performance by Nineteen-Thirteen, featuring Victor DeLorenzo, Janet Schiff, and Scott Johnson, played in front of monumental masterpieces in the Carl von Marr Gallery. In between will be curator-led tours, studio projects for the whole family, plus cake. For a full schedule of the day’s events see the event page on their website.