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Invisible College: School is In
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Fort Wayne is not usually a city that people have on the tip of their tongue when discussing contemporary art and its future direction. It especially hasn’t been seen as the place that a west coast gallery would choose to highlight a large group of emerging and established artists. Luckily, times change as well as the behaviors of institutions and businesses. Due to access to the internet and the sophistication which comes with it, our city can become a site for cultural production with as much access confidence as any other space. This trend also allows artists anywhere to gain access to contemporary art even without the support of museums or educational institutions, building their own visual vocabulary through traded imagery via blogs and gaining social capital by contacting artists directly via email. Many of the artists in this exhibition are largely defined outside of institutional spaces. The architecture of “Invisible College” at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art is supported by these concepts, and the general sense of visual art being outside of stylistic definitions.
With the lack of boundaries present in “Invisible College”, the viewer is greeted by a plethora of styles and media immediately upon experiencing it, with the presentation of large scale murals, an installation accompanied with light and sound components, wall reliefs, full sculpture, drawing, painting, and mixed media pieces, which contain many different styles.
“Invisible College” is a group exhibition is co-curated by Andrew and Shawn Hosner of Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Gallery, and Josef Zimmerman of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The exhibition features representative works by 46 artists belonging to the New Contemporary movement, a concept which Thinkspace and Hosners have been invested in through their gallery and their curatorial projects like the recent “Pow Wow” in 2014 at the Honolulu Museum of Art School.
The New Contemporary movement began two decades ago and is structured on a rejection of high and low distinctions and merges the abstract and representation creating a surrealistic combination. This loose group has more recently risen up and created a younger group of artists which has grown mostly out of new crop of online and physical art publications, starting with Juxtapoz Magazine, and moving on to others like Bluecanvas. While the rejection of institutional guidance is a central theme in movement, some criticisms of it include the heavy borrowing of concepts and form from artists like Barry McGee who pioneer the introduction of street art into the institution through education, unlike the graffiti artists of the 80’s, through The Mission School Art Movement which was concurrently growing in the early 90’s San Francisco Bay area.
Highlights from this exhibition include the murals produced by Andrew Schoultz’s “Idle Wild (Stomping Horse)” and “Idle Wild (Illuminati Eye),” Troy Lovegates’ “Untitled,” Cyrcle-David Leavitt and David Torres’ “Kapteyn-B,” and Mark Veca’s “Untitled.” Mark Veca’s intestinal “untitled” is impossible to not explore as it draws the viewer in, and Cyrcle’s vinyl and spray paint construction feels like a cartoon lunar surface, while Lovegates’ piece, incorporating some painted light relief pieces are beautiful representational scenes reminding this viewer of the great Ben Shahn and his depictions of the everyday worker and man rising up. Most impressive however are Schoultz’s “Idle Wild” pieces. Their enveloping of the space is impossible to not focus on the artist’s command of his technique is superb. Schoultz’s use of cross hatching and incredibly reduced method of representation create an immediately recognizable yet surreal reality within his works.
Thankfully, “Invisible College” also includes Fort Wayne based artists Daniel Dienelt and Kay Gregg, as well as Fort Wayne native Amanda Joseph. Dienelt’s four mixed media circular pieces are a continuation of the artist’s work in building and reducing color and form into rich fields of experience. Joseph’s “Line of Best Fit”, is an extreme close up of a hand full of striations throughout the fingers and palm, and of course, the artist’s signature use of glitter. The title, pulled from the world of math and used to plot data, would seem to suggest references between statistical analysis and palmistry, giving the image a deadpan humor and a depth characteristic of Joseph’s work.
Other highlights in “Invisible College” include Yis “Nosego” Goodwin’s “Up Here”, Alex Yanes’ “Kaleidoscope”, Kwon Kyungyup’s “Red Hood”, Joel Daniel Phillips’ “Spaceman O. T. #6”, and Erik Jones’ “The Slip”. All of these artists are producing incredibly strong work and building a significant market around themselves which would be assumed a sign of strong future promise as well. “Nosego”, a Philadelphia based artists, who is now Fort Wayne famous for his mural on side of 816 S. Calhoun street, is a great example of how these artists are building a presence in Fort Wayne, of all places, as our public opens their eyes to skill and beauty that they are capable of producing.
Ultimately the greatest value of “Invisible College” is its impact on the younger portion of Fort Wayne’s arts community, giving them a place to connect to and new ideas to incorporate into their repertoire of visual vocabularies. Kaitlyn Binkley, FWMoA Collections and Communications Associate notes, “(I am) in awe of what we’ve been able to bring to Fort Wayne in this exhibition, mostly by just asking the artists to participate and providing them a space. This is bringing great value to our city and providing a unique opportunity for our community to experience.” With exhibitions like “Invisible College”, we have a chance of starting a stronger push from the streets into the institutions, and a changing of the guard in many ways within our city.
For More Information:
Fort Wayne Museum of Art
July 11-Sept 27