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State of the Arts
Artlink's 2014 Members Show
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Each year, Fort Wayne's art scene ebbs and flows as established artists find new homes, or simple discontinue their practice while younger, newer artists either enter the art world through school, or just begin to produce work for a multitude of personal reasons. This continuous parade of individual styles, personalities, and artistic practices has been wonderful for this writer to watch over the last half dozen years. While there are many locations and social settings where this parade can be seen, Artlink's "Annual Members Show" has always been a barometer and census for this peculiar population within the Fort Wayne Community.
Now in its 36th year of operation, Artlink has conducted a members exhibition since its early days, when the art world was rooted solely in Fort Wayne's downtown, and its nucleus was the Fort Wayne Art Institute, which had sprawled through the West Central Neighborhood. Although much has changed over the previous decades, this year's "Annual Members Show" includes many nods to the past, including a number of artists who have been producing works since the organizations inception and beyond!
When viewing the Annual Members Show, one must remember that this is basically an open call exhibition, with members of the organization able to submit one piece of artwork, and the general public being able to submit a piece for a modest fee. Because of this format, the nature of this exhibition is, to a great deal, based on surprise, and a sliding skill of ability and content from piece to piece. While a good number of pieces each year will leave the viewing audience with much to be desired, there are also a surprising number of amazing, sometimes breathtaking, pieces of art which bring delight. Much this volatility in the Annual Members Show is that it is a popular respite for students, hobby artists, and experiments. While this may seems like a harsh criticism, these kinds of outlets are essential for strong art communities. Without the ability to fail publicly, exceed through mistakes, and learn from both experiences, artists cannot grow.
Given all of this, the 2014 Annual Members Show includes a number of exceptional pieces of art, running the gamut from paintings, to sculptures, and mixed media pieces in-between. While two dimensional media always takes the lion's share, this year seemed to include a stronger and more diverse arrangement of pieces. Suzanne Galazka, as always, shared a stunning figure drawing. Entitled "Monkey Down", Galazka portrays the human body as a delicate balance between the strict contours produced with an ink line and the stretching, filling watercolor which brings each piece to life. Her use of dashed lines, blue shadows on red bodies, and highlights as exposed paper never disappoint. The intimacy that she is capable of producing and the economy in which she does this are beyond comparison.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rebecca Stockert and her piece "Tree Spirit" highlight the diversity within our community and in this exhibition. This piece is a very small, vibrant image dominated by the color orange and inhabited by a central figure, abstracted as a figure with trees for hair, swaddling other trees in a somewhat barren landscape. Stockert's work has evolved a great deal over the years, and her ability to expound narratives through rather simple characters is impressive. From monsters to nature spirits, Stockert's characters are everything from capricious studies to small moral narratives.
And to fill out the triumvirate of Artlink employs represented in the exhibition (including Galazka and Stockert), Deb Washler also included a mixed media drawing, entitled "Candy Kings". This small piece packs a punch with erratic line work, pops of color, and a central bird character. Blurring the line between sketch and final piece, Washler's work is a great example of the success of experiments.
Rounding out the two dimensional works of great note in this exhibition are a trio of men who have mastered their practice and continue to produce amazing works of art. David Seculoff, Norman Bradley, and Michael Poorman represent the backbone of our arts community, with their expressions of their dedication to beauty, art making, and an uncompromising spirit to explore the boundaries of their creativity. Seculoff presents, as usual, an "untitled" non-objective abstract image. Normal Bradley includes "A Ring," and Michael Poorman includes "Untitled" as well. Seculoff and Poorman explore the nature of abstraction playing with color and composition, while Bradley seems to ask the viewer to play with both the words and meaning of his title, and its reference included in the image. While all three of these great painters have the ability to take the viewer along, Seculoff's image holds the most power, create such a depth for the viewer to become lost in it.
While not wanting to skim over the exhibition, volumes could be written about the artists held within. This exhibition also includes noteworthy contributions by sculptors like KristinA's, "Beauty Within", and Marcia Aldridge-Adams' "Faces and Spaces," and George Morrison's "Another Brick In the Wall." There is a great display of photography by Cara Lee Wade with "Return of the Repressed", Mariah Wynn's "The Willowy Dancer", and Jim Gabbard's "Bathed in Light". Some of the most exciting pieces of mixed media work include Sean Hottois' "Modular Surveillance", and Theresa Thompson's "Lumen-Patron Saint of Magic Light".
With such a strong display of local art in the 2014 Annual Members Show, it is a wonder why we, as a community, do not have a stronger display of for-profit arts spaces and a more robust market for this work to exist within.
For More Information:
Artlink's Members Show
July 18-September 2, 2014