I’m pleased to present another art review from Hollins University art professor Ruth Epstein’s art criticism class, this written by junior Abigail Minor. “STATE OF THE ART: Virginia Crossroads” remains on display through Feb. 23.—MikeA
STATE OF THE ART: Virginia Crossroads
By Abigail Minor
“Man and Beast” by Robert Sulkin
Works by nine regional artists battle for attention on the walls, floor, small tables and racks in a single white gallery at the Taubman Museum of Art in State of the Art: Virginia Crossroads
. John Clingempeel, David Freed, Ann Glover, Charles Goolsby, Reni Gower, Chris Gregson, Sam Krisch, Taliaferro Logan, and Robert Sulkin hail from Virginia, a requirement that creates surprising depth.
Standout pieces include Robert Sulkin’s imaginary mix-media machines. Found objects such as lights, wire, tires and skeletal fragments, generate repetitive forms and spontaneous sparks, frozen in the medium of photography. In Man and Beast, Sulkin’s gripping scene of tension between organic and manufactured objects, an animal skull and vertebrae arch to follow the circular forms of a bicycle and wagon wheel, respectively, held together with ropes and wires.
John Clingempeel’s distinguished paintings on plywood display a deep understanding of the interaction between light and dark. Using beeswax to build up thin layers of color, Clingempeel deconstructs natural elements into abstraction. The artist’s charcoal compositions, lacking in color, evoke a different, somber mood. In Untitled (2011) tendrils extend upward from a nucleus of white at the bottom right toward the top of the canvas, slashing through the dark charcoal strokes. The contrast of white and black, intermingled with greys, presses the lighter elements of the composition into the viewers’ space.
Equally distinctive are Reni Gower’s hanging strips of mesh and metal grating, covered with vibrant paint splatters. Like three-dimensional Pollocks, Gower’s constructions pleasantly assault the eye with a visual feast of color, texture, and no discernable pattern.
A mix of traditional media and innovative techniques, State of the Art: Virginia Crossroadspresents an impressive array of work from the region. Curators thoughtfully pieced together a multitude of styles and subjects that Virginia artists are choosing to explore today.