Sunday, September 13, 2009

Go to college (art shows)

Three art exhibitions at colleges (Columbia College, Benedict College and the University of South Carolina) cover a span of mediums (textiles, painting on glass and printmaking) all done well.

A diverse printmaker

At the USC art department gallery are the excellent prints, mostly etchings and woodcuts, by Bill Hosterman. The Michigan artist takes a range of approaches: realistic bordering on the surrealistic black and white etching; more chunky woodcut prints; elaborately constructed and colored abstract pieces; collages.
Many of the black and white etching are intricate images of inter-woven branches and brambles trapping or protecting birds as human hands reach in uncertainly. In another the brambles engulf a large isolated house.
The fine lines and gradations of tone are expertly handled.
At the other extreme is a tiny work of a flayed human figure, which has deeply embedded the paper, in rich colors with a background composed of oversized letters.
The most satisfying and engaging of all the works are the abstract color pieces. With their interwoven lines and shapes, layers of ink and subtle colors they’re simply beautiful.
Also in the show, titled “External Signings,” are a series of collages made from portions of prints. One might wonder if Hosterman’s is recycling not-so-perfect prints. That doesn’t matter – they bring all his approaches together for a whole and are the best works in the show.
The gallery also includes a brief intro to the printmaking process. This is always a welcome thing in a world filled with art called "prints" which are actually reproductions.
Through Oct. 2. Senate and Pickens streets. 9 a.m. – 4:30- p.m. weekdays. (803) 777-7480.

Textile abstractions

A different sort of college can be found at Columbia College with upstate artist Terry Jarrard-Dimond’s “Textile Constructions.” Jarrad-Dimond’s fabric pieces are inspired both by quilt making and abstract painting (mostly of the hard edge type.) One piece is even called “Thank You Morris Louis,” an homage to an abstract painter of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
The artist creates harmonious, but exciting compositions with cloth and thread. Oftentimes, bright colors dominate, but she’s not afraid of using expanses of white (sometimes more than one shade of white.) The various shapes are most blocky but these compositions are complex and she throws in some unexpected curves (both literally and figuratively). The work also has a rich surface created with overlays of sewing and sometimes dyed patterns.
The downstairs area of the gallery is given to about 12 large pieces, which range in size from a couple feet across to about six-by-six feet while a sampling of eight smaller framed pieces are shown in a loft space.
The pieces in “Textile Constructions” have many seams, but they are nearly seamless as is this show.
The exhibition is on display through September.
The gallery, located in the music and art building at Columbia College, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends. (The college is located about three miles north of downtown Columbia at Main Street and Columbia College Drive.)
The artist will give a talk during a reception Sept. 17 from noon to 1 p.m.
Call (803) 786-3088.

Fragility and glass paintings

J’Renee uses an old-fashioned, decorative-arts technique:
reverse painting on glass. The New Orleans artist also incorporates elements of collage with photo-based images meshing well with the richer surfaces and colors of the paint. The artist has a big show of the paintings at Benedict College called “Surviving Katrina.”
The paintings capture the tumult and tragedy, and sometimes triumph, that the title of the exhibition refers to. Several artworks in on display actually survived the storm, others were created in response to it and some are done on windows salvaged from the wreckage left by the 2005 hurricane.
Most of the paintings indirectly speak to the storm and incorporate well-known New Orleans references – jazz, historic buildings, religion.
J’Renee’s works are built into a tottering makeshift structure that threatens to collapse. While at times, this approach can look sloppy, it is perfect for the subject matter and the material and when it works it really works.
Often times a face, looking directly at the viewer with a kind of beseeching accusation, pushes to the forefront – right up against the glass so to speak.
The show has a couple of drawbacks. The artist’s collage approach is often too close to that of Romare Bearden and visitors are greeted by a printed reproduction of one of the originals. The latter sends folks into the gallery wondering if they are seeing originals or some version of high-definition copies
The show is in the fine arts building at the college, located at Harden and Blanding streets. Through September. The gallery is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The artist will give a talk during a reception taking place September 16 from
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (803) 705-4768

Extra credit

A couple of other things, sort of connected, to the other shows.
The exhibition space on the first floor of the Richland County Public Library on Assembly Street has a delightful show of textile works by the group The Devine Quilters.
In a small conference room just off the gallery you can see a group of dynamic original drawings Benedict College gallery director Tyrone Geter did for the 1996 children’s book Little Tree Growing in the Shade. The artist gave the drawings to the library earlier in the year.

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