December 19th, 2012  |  Published in December 2012


by Fran Watson

Carnegie Arts Center, 1028 Scott St., Covington, Ky. November 16 – December 21

If you believe you can never have too much of a good thing, you will be feasting on outside-the-box creativity at the Carnegie Arts Center this month.

Terri Kernʼs small book-themed pieces are at their best when she combines nature, (birds and branches notably), with tiny books. Sometimes the books are precariously perched like afterthoughts, finding their way into becoming the subject matter as the display continues. Others are tossed by handfuls into nests, as in “Bait” while still others are slyly hidden within more obvious objects. However they are presented, these clay books are the focal point. Painted matte, earthy colors over woven textures, their accessibility promotes an ambiance of intimacy

Then Scott Dooley comes along flashing angles and bindings in vessels that could only be described as “strident”. In shades of gray-ish pastels with pocked exteriors, pipe-shaped pieces are held together with charcoal colored bands as a faux method of construction including tiny clay rivets to further the impression. Opposing the quietude of Kernʼs ceramics, these are brash, noisy teapots and containers which very nearly clash with their intentions. Whether or not one could actually use them is of no concern. Their quirky existence, all elbows and knees, validates them as art. Donʼt let the simple titles like “Paired Ewers” and “Teapot” fool you: thereʼs nothing simple about these.

Kimberly Anderson ʻs combinations of floral and feminine forms rely upon incongruity as their conceptual framework. Nearly all exhibit thistly portions, and thorns. These are placed by the artistʼs hands one by one in and around the smooth petals lest they be perceived as too lovely. After the viewer shrinks back from the menacing portions, then sheer fascination with concept kicks in. Andersonʼs prickly meld is based on natural defense tactics found in even the most innocent plants. Also included are completely non-threatening “Lede, Story Egg” and ” Mary, Story Egg”, white forms serving as egg-shaped pages for illustrating ancient stories in fine line. Nothing threatening here, just a straight up vehicle for classic beauty.

Science and art combine to pleasurably confuse in Carrie Longleyʼs organic inventions exhibited in laboratory settings. Bell jars cover some of the sculptures, worked with tiny dental tools into intricate fabrications. Some are served up captured in resin like over-sized slides. Unidentifiable pink and ivory pieces, some containing the umbilical cord that attached Longley to her daughter, incorporate delicate wire sprouting like living roots to the edges of their glass containers. The work recognizes the fantasy body part depicted, while we marvel at the skill and detail utilized in their creation.

Upstairs, Alan Pocaro packs a lot of energy into abstract collage paintings incorporating collage portions with subtle judgement. Pocaro introduces most of these foreign elements into paint so well that it takes a bit of exploration to discover them. Many of the pieces are then overlaid with flat geometric additions and stencils, often chevrons. The very solidity of these additions frequently becomes the means of subduing the fine painted gesture too much, taking the stage when other facets would have stood well alone. Picaroʼs most successful piece is #6, where geometric forms take a non-intrusive position, offset by some juicy flat strokes of paint.

Process becomes as important as the the product in Ellen Hilzʼs art glass Hot kilns and opening surprises are elements of the final work. Hiltz uses swirling dark threads embedded in colored and transparent glass. “Fire” is a startling deep crimson piece centered with a glowing triangular shape placed along a line of glittering gold. Its glowing background and patterned border give these elements space in which to shine.

The Duveneck gallery offers a double treat by Robert Robbins. One end of the gallery was strewn with images of brush, leaves, and spattered sunshine, while the opposite end was hung with swirls of color landscapes. The former were a flurry of color, painted in hundreds of overlaid brush strokes which evolve into a forest floor. The more atmospheric opposite scenery was discernible to some extent as water, sky, and foliage with tonal references to distance or foreground. Deep, shimmering greenish blue drenched the surface of “Nocturne with Lens Flare”, illustrating the intensity of the color fields in these pieces . However, some of the eight smaller paintings at the far end hinted at more definition, while maintaining the soothing aura of endless space. Both styles were by the same artist, yet they were so radically different that it was necessary to double check with the curator to verify whose works they were.

Robert F. Shroederʼs very personal metal sculptures are tiny biographies of people and events. Metal couches, about 8 inches long, and club chairs, proportional to the couches, are fashioned with removable cushions to provide storage space. These spaces hold additional memorabilia of the subject. Incised drawings, and signs of wear add humanizing touches to the metal, a medium which Schroeder intends to age with metalʼs predictable patina. The collages surrounding the sculptures which reflect Schroederʼs research and involvement with the personalities depicted are even more interesting. More than simply a record of the work, they indicate Schroederʼs intense connection with the final art. Newspaper clippings, sketches, notes, etc. float about the picture plane pulling the beholder into the lives of Schroederʼs subjects.

In addition to these excellent impressions, painted metal flamingos were shown. I wish they had not been. No matter what their importance to the artist, they couldnʼt begin to approach the philosophical dimensions of the biographical works.

Jessica Metzler is the ninth artist in “Nine” She is a student, with hopes of becoming an art director when she finishes college. Itʼs a small display, but one that warms the cockles of my heart. Each year Bill Seitz, Carnegie gallery coordinator, interviews and assesses students and their work from all over Kentucky . From the applicants two or three outstanding students are chosen and awarded a $500. scholarship and a solo show in a tiny room on the second floor of the Carnegie Arts Center. Currently known as the Youth Gallery, but destined for a more meaningful title, the Covington non-profit show place is filling the current gap in the public education system with art opportunities. It takes so little to make an artist. Often the smallest gesture of approval shapes lives forever.

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