Sunday, May 13, 2018

Local Art Seen: Triple Opening at the Duluth Art Institute Exceeds Expectations

Thursday evening I attended the opening for three new exhibitions at the Duluth Art Institute. I did not expect to be so drawn in, for reasons I'll try to convey. From the instant I stepped off the 4th floor elevator I was surprised.

Image from "Travels with My Twin"
The "corridor gallery" is adorned with Jason Pearson's Travels with My Twin: selected works from the Pearson Brother's Collection. Pearson is the current curator at DAI. I'm looking forward to talking with him further about the project. The various items "collected" over the past 25 years were often unusual, intriguing and unexpected. You'll want to be sure not to just rush through on the way to the main galleries when you come.

The Morrison Gallery features Tara Austin's Boreal Ornament. Once again, the photo on the invitation looked interesting but totally inadequate for conveying the wow factor in experiencing the pieces in person. I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I state that the work Ms. Austin is producing is quite beautiful and nothing short of remarkable.

In a clever bit of irony, you look at the wall of faces and ask, "Why is one
missing?" In reality, these 43 are the missing student of Iguala.
Last but not least is Chicago artist Jonathan Herrera's Querida Presencia in the Steffl Gallery. Again, the image used to promote the show was interesting, but the real story is incredibly compelling.

I'm sometimes a bit jaded about art that has a political intent, and yet in this case the shocking nature of the subject matter and the imaginative manner in which it has been conveyed were well conceived. The importance of the story cannot be understated, and yet it seems to have been lost in the cacophony of sound that roars through our media channels, stories that flit by like a flock of birds and are quickly forgotten.

Querida Presencia mean "Dear Presence," but it is really a story about absence. It begins with paintings on canvas paper of 43 faces. The images are haunting, much like Francis Bacon's horrors. What makes this powerful is that it is the opening salvo in a story about 43 students who were taken captive by the authorities in Iguala, Mexico in 2014 and who are still missing. Another feature of the story is that 23 police, including the artist's uncle, are in jail without proof. This story will soon receive a blog post of it's own, but the initial account is here on Wikipedia with an in-depth dive here at The Intercept.

* * * *
What follows here are some images from Tara Austin's Boreal Ornament. It is my hope to share more at a future time. You can find these exhibits on the Fourth Floor of the Depot where the DAI offices are located.

Tara Austin: Acrylic on plexiglas.
Detail from a much larger piece.
Also a detail, vivd colors and intricate designs.
Tara Austin, standing alongside one of her creations, thereby
showing the scale of some of her work.
* * * * 
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it. 

No comments: