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Artlink Memberís Show

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-08-09


July is known not only for Three Rivers Festival, but also Arlink's Annual Member's show, which opened July 17th and runs until August 11th. Sponsored by NIPSCO, 816 Pint & Slice, Arts United, and Artlink Members, this exhibition is known not only for its diversity of work, but also its great attendance, bringing in just about everyone in Fort Wayne's arts scene, and even a lot of the fringe art world. An interesting note to also mention is the incredible bargain that so many of this year's entries are going for. With prices as low at $55, each year entertains new work from Artlink's members, and is popular for collectors to pick up great deals. This year had a group of particularly strong pieces by artists in Fort Wayne and its surrounding counties.

Somewhat grouped by content and media, the Member's Show is curated in a salon style with jam packed walls. Containing 179 pieces of art ó their largest members show in Artlink's 30+ years of history ó the exhibit gives the viewer a little bit of everything to experience, from ceramics to ink drawings, and digital photographs to readymade assemblages.

Notable artists represented in this show include Suzanne Galazka, Dusty Neal, Daniel Dienelt, Joshua Witten, Sommer Starks, Dixie Bradley, and Matthew Kelly. Commonalities existed between many of these and the other artists represented in the 2009 Members Show. Among these trends was a distinct appreciated for the figure. Of course the precise method varied wildly, but apparently, the figure was of a great importance on our local artists this year.

Suzanne Galazka's vignette portrait, "Quick Head Study" was magnetic. The intimacy of Galazka's drawing and line quality is technically superb, and entertains by shifting around all of the features-an erased bar just under and behind the eye, a rough patch to solidify the cheekbone, and a delicate but pronounced silhouette defining the neck, chin, mouth, and nose. The pose and immediate handling of the image seems almost cold, like just another study. Upon further inspection, the viewer can begin to play along all of the lines and blurred areas which this portrait is comprised of and realize the joy and discipline which Galazka has refined over the years to because one of Fort Wayne's best figurative artists.

Dusty Neal, who is more widely known as a tattoo artist in Fort Wayne, working at Donnie Manco's New Republic Tattoo, also exhibited in this year's Members Show with a portrait, titled "Jennifer." This painting in particular matches many of the recent trends in figurative painting that can be seen over the past three years. The broken facets of color which make up the bulk of the woman's face, neutral palette, and the treatment of the hair and background all match contemporary figurative painting styles seen in larger metro areas. However, differing from many others, Neal's composition and dramatic lighting of the figure gives his piece an also Mexican muralist feel harking back to works of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Sisquieros while still keeping in line with todays trends.

One of the most interesting and formally beautiful pieces in this years show is Sommer Straksí " " a "drawing" made out of cut pieces of paper and thread. Again, the figures are the focus, but Starks completely subverts the visual plane by making the subject the two dimensionality of the media more than the images created by it. The playful addition of string to add more visual movement and the illusion of depth completes this amazing work of art. The intimate silhouettes of the characters and the cropping of the image makes the viewer a voyeur, which completes the work even further. Having similarities with art made by Kara Walker, Jacob Lawrence, and minimalist collage artists like James Michael Starr, Starks' image is efficient, suggestive, and sensual.

Dixie Landis Bradley's piece "Independence Day," Michael Poorman's "Use-Flow of Everyday things," and Nathan Taves' piece "Two Trees," were some of the few fully abstracted pieces. Bradley's work is reminiscent of an older era of abstraction coming out of the New York School and Abstract Expressionism. "Independence Day" could be described as a combination of Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning's work in the late 60's and early 70's. Nathan Taves' ceramic stoneware piece "Two Trees" is a monotone, writhing, exploded vessel, which visually is reminiscent of antlers or animal bones, the pelvis specifically. Poorman's small abstract work on paper draws the viewer into a whirling composition of colors which, after a second to register, because a regimented structure of color and form posing as a wild abstraction. Reds, yellows, blues, and greens all balance with intermittent white spaces, and clusters are hung from each other by more muted colors.

Joshua Witten's superbly executed mixed media piece "The March Hare", Justine Sutton's Egon Schiele-esque petite figure, David Seculoff's figure drawing, Jeffrey Crane's "Nature vs. Nurture" and Daniel Dienelt's "Welcome to American Meat Markets" were all eye-catching pieces as well. Many of these artist's deserve more in-depth exhibition's to flush out the immense talent they all have.

Artlink's Members Show has become a great tradition over the decades of the organization's existence, and has been open means of expression for countless artists and art lovers to add their voice to the local art scene. Please go visit Artlink's Members Show which runs until August 11th. Also remember to vote for your favorite five pieces while viewing the exhibition, the winning artists will receive a gift certificate from 816 Pint & Slice and cash awards.

*Please email me about art events and specific artists living and working in the area: d.h.swartz@gmail.com

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