Friday, September 23, 2011

Get to the Galleries: Impetus at Joseph Gross

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Kevin Peterson, Keep Houston Ugly, Oil on wood panel
  • Kevin Peterson, "Keep Houston Ugly", Oil on wood panel

Let's get one thing out of the way, right up front: The Tucson Weekly doesn't need another arts writer. Margaret, & company do a wonderful job of providing coverage of Tucson's art world. Apparently, though, someone at the Weekly thought that readers might like to hear from a guy who has been peripherally involved in the art scene for years, with an over-inflated sense of self-importance, whom also has the proclivity towards using words like proclivity. Hellooooo Nathan! To put to rest any lingering doubts of my credibility as a blogger, I may or may not also live in my mother-in-law's garage and/or basement.

Here's some pleasing, and also totally unexpected news; artists are actually drawing and painting again! In spite of higher education's best efforts to create artists that can craft a better Artist's Statement than an actual work of art, artists are paying attention to such old-fashioned notions as line, color, and composition. Ironically, this can be best illustrated in a current show inside our favorite institution of higher education, the U of A's Joseph Gross Gallery. On view through November 9, "Impetus' is a show imported from Los Angeles, and curated by the highly regarded Thinkspace Gallery.

Without exception, I can picture each of these artists waging tiny epic battles with their chosen medium, fretting over the importance of each stroke or line. This show was entirely and refreshingly devoid of any statements from the artists whatsoever, which meant that each painting succeeded or failed solely on the strength of the work itself, and not some clever artist statement written in a coffee shop over a $5 latte. Bloviating with a laptop and a latte is really best left to bloggers, anyway.


The cheeky mural by DABS MYLA, arguably the biggest name in the exhibit, seemed entirely out of context with the thoughtful, almost somber nature of the surrounding paintings, which may explain why it was installed on an isolated wall. The highlight of the show was "Drowning Artist #4", by Linnea Strid. Linnea's photo-realism technique is beyond reproach, but her real strength lies in choosing source imagery that is highly dramatic yet absolutely beautiful to behold. This exceptional painting traveled from Sweden to be shown here, so the least you could do is drive a few minutes to enjoy it.

Linnea Strid, Drowning Artist #4, oil on wood panel
  • Linnea Strid, "Drowning Artist #4", oil on wood panel

I'm not sure whether Tucson should be offended that the strongest show of work this year was imported from a Los Angeles gallery, or happy that Thinkspace Gallery found Tucson to be worth the time and effort to mount an exhibition of their outstanding artists. I suppose I'll opt for happily offended.

Nathan Saxton is the owner/operator of Borealis Arts.

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