Sunday, May 13, 2012

Materialistic Intentions at the PRØVE

There were a couple big happenings this weekend in the Northland. First, yesterday was such a beautiful day I had my first chance this year to go barefoot. Spring is here and we've all taken that great leap of faith to put our snow shovels away for the summer. Won't be long till Dylan Fest (Duluth) and Dylan Days (Hibbing)

With the Homegrown Music and Art Festival behind us, it was back to business for the PRØVE Gallery at 21 N. Lake Avenue with the Collective's sixth show titled Materialistic Intentions. It was another nice exhibit with some pretty exciting pieces by a variety of artists. Their showbill described it an "international showcase of art that embraces and speaks through the materials that comprise the exhibition." I personally found much of the work exciting, but would like to have a little more information about the artists without having to ask. Nevertheless, I mean it when I say there were some exciting things happening.

The distribution of the 31 objects and paintings is comfortable throughout and the lighting bright for easy engagement.

The first thing to catch one's eye upon entering is this ten foot doily cutout. At the center is a flower, concentric designs leading outward. My eye first landed on the repeated statement "AND OURS IS AS WELL" and then followed inward to "THE LIFE OF A FLOWER IS SHORT." It's a thought-provoking statement in the form of a snowflake mandala and speaks of something beyond the materialism that so encompasses the physical borders of our lives. The flower exists because of a seed, and this work by Mayumi Amada (titled Ours Is As Well) began with a thought-seed which bloomed to become this piece.

If I may digress, as children many of us made snowflakes by folding paper and cutting designs into them, some quite elaborate. This piece tugs the heart toward those memories of innocence and exploration. But if the life of a flower is short, think how short the life of a snowflake can be, especially in early winter when it lands on warm skin. Then again, the moisture from a snowflake in late spring may be precisely what is needed to cause a seed to germinate, and a flower to bloom.

On the left wall a set of Bouquets from Grandmas, again by Amada,  led the way to several pieces by Aaron Kloss. Kloss, a recent addition to several local galleries, has been painting small and medium sized canvases with paint daubs, usually trees and sky, a form of large-brush pointillism. His paintings have been selling, perhaps because there is a comforting quality in the colors. At this show he took his stylized approach into a new direction by combining painting with tapestry. I found it an interesting divergence from his other work and liked the piece very much as it replicated something I attempted to execute many years ago but with less success.

Josh Ostroff's large paintings on wood panels carried a forcefulness that belied the simplicity of their designs.
The paintings gave me the repressed tension of a Francis Bacon exhibit I once attended in New York. I was told that not all of Ostroff's work was about conflict but that the gallery collective found these pieces especially interesting. I agreed.

The show included works by Jon Billing (the Tower in the window), Kevin Bierbaum, Jon Billing, Maia Berzenadze, Shane Warren, Emily Newman (no relation, though I like her initials in addition to her work), Haley Prochnow, John Adamiak, Jeanine Malec, and Karen Searle, in addition to those mentioned above.

The wine and beer tasted good, with a suitable ambiance created again by the Crunchy Bunch. Not sure what's in store for June, but catch it if you cane.

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