Saturday, December 10, 2011

PRØVE Is Proven

If there was ever any doubt after the first show, last night’s Second at the PRØVE Gallery here in Duluth erased all of it. Duluth’s newest venue for the arts is generating excitement, buzz and a lot of attention.

The Second show features work by a variety of artists, nine in all, all working in different mediums and with no seeming relationship until you step back and begin to build the connections. Like art from all ages, it is the viewer’s choice whether to engage or not, whether to mentally interact with what has been placed before them. The abstract movement of the 20th century took the public in directions they had never considered before. Some said, “Pshaw!” Others said, “Wow.”

Art is another language, and sometimes a little background helps make the engagement experience more profitable. In my case, one of the artists gave me a tour of the show, shared some of the thinking that went into the various explorations in this exhibition. For example, Zach Gorr’s "A Study" looks simple enough -- electrical tape on a wall -- until you have been asked to adjust the angle at which you perceive the space. It's aim was to transform the 3-D space into a 2-D perception, which as a painter I found especially intriguing because much of my work toys with ways to give the appearance of three-dimensionality to two dimensional surfaces.


It is, when you give it any thought at all, quite startling how many lives we intersect with in the course of a lifetime, especially as you move outside the comfort zone of your customary circles. Anthony Zappa’s "Second Space" (Monofilament, Steel & Light) carries my thoughts into the realm of seen and unseen as the splay of filaments stretch out from a corner of the room into the seen yet not readily perceived space of the gallery. Rays of laser-like energy pulse out from a hidden source. What’s behind the wall? I want to go there, but it’s forbidden. The window into the soul of the piece is inaccessible without a ladder, and the draped doorway to that space behind the wall has a scrawled warning, no admittance. So, too, the people we meet in public spaces like this. There is the seen, the unseen, with windows to glimpse in and doors that invite or restrict exploration.

So it is that the PRØVE was alive with fascinated viewers, many whom I’ve been intersecting with in various spaces and places these past couple years. A publisher, a professor, a poet, a photographer, a film maker, a curator, a spokesperson for the down and out, gallery owners, potters, friends of the artists, and the curious... all gathered to interface with the new and intersect with the arts. Music by The Crunchy Bunch permeated the atmosphere in the gallery space, contributing to the energy.

All in all, I sense a level of confidence here that is promising for the PRØVE and good for Duluth. It will be interesting to see where it all goes.

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