Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Morgan Exhibit at Zeitgeist: Catch It If You Can

"The artist fills space with an attitude. The attitude never comes from himself alone." ~Willem de Kooning 

Last night was the opening for a new exhibition of paintings by Bill Morgan, a UWS professor with strong roots in the painting traditions. When we spoke earlier this month he shared his relish for abstract expressionism, and his love of applying paint to surfaces.

When I arrived a few minutes early it was like any quiet evening at this cafe in the Zeitgeist Arts Building. I looked around, walked upstairs and found Penny from Perry Framing placing name tags and putting finishing touches on the exhibit.

Since its opening a couple year back this balcony area has been showcasing artists' works, but never in such volume as this. Usually a few paintings have been spaced out casually against the restored brick walls that augment the feeling of an old country art space. Morgan's paintings were generously distributed as if the curator were saying, "I really want you to see as much of this work as possible because it's really worth seeing."

And it is worth seeing. Morgan arrived with his lovely wife after I had eyeball-scanned every surface. I'll return to enjoy the work another time when I can be more leisurely about it.

The pictures and paintings have been hung thematically. One section clearly shows the influence of Mexico. One piece is tagged Milagros, which is miracles in Spanish. Nearby is another titled Imaginary Mexican Chapel. There were a few of these and if you've been to a Mexican chapel you'll recognize echoes of the experience in these works.

In the back of the room there were several paintings with Japanese or Oriental influence, faces perhaps from the theater or a Samurai dream.

On the wall to your left at the top of the stairs are numerous pieces combining painting and collage, reminders of art movements that passed through the mid-twentieth century. The collages included words and though Morgan had said they were simply design elements, one had to wonder when the word Mapplethorpe descended from the sky in one of these grey designs.

There is great variety in terms of color, sometimes vibrant sometimes muted, and theme, but overall the collection hangs together as the work of a man who seems to love the creative process, of making pictures moving paint around within defined spaces. I encourage you to catch the show...

Looking for a place to grab a bite downtown? What a great environment for enjoying a fabulous lunch.

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