ARTS Southeast ‘Good Vibrations’ features colors, concepts of summer

My brain is rarely settled on just one thing at a time. Occasionally, this manifests in thinking about two topics simultaneously, but more often it’s a thought combined with a soundtrack, some song that’s stuck in my head, playing on repeat in the background while I ruminate on a subject.

So, when I went to review ARTS Southeast’s latest Supporter Gallery exhibition, “Good Vibrations,” the Beach Boys song of the same name rang in my head, even as I spoke with Exhibitions Assistant and Director of Public Relations Samantha Mack about the show she curated.

“The Supporter Gallery is a place where we showcase our community of artist supporters,” she said of the loop of four hallways that make up the exhibition space. “We have a program where as a supporter you’re eligible to apply to our three member shows per year, and you’re guaranteed to get into one per membership year. So it’s a great way to get your art out into the community.”

“It’s also a really high visibility space: We have our artist studios around here; we have First Fridays every month,” she continued. “So, the work gets seen a lot by both local people and visiting people from out of town.”

Exhibitions in the Supporter Gallery are always built around a broad theme, to allow artists plenty of room for interpretation. As Mack and I walked the exhibition, it was interesting to see how some of the artists were also obviously hearing the Beach Boys in their heads while considering their submissions, making summer-y work with vibrant colors and light-hearted concepts, while other artists saw the theme in completely different ways. Amongst the former, I was particularly taken with paintings by Thomas Mitz and Bede Van Dyke.

Themed exhibition allows artists room for interpretation

Mitz, who I was shocked to learn has never before shown in any of ARTS Southeast’s numerous exhibition spaces, actually has two pieces in “Good Vibrations,” including Gardenia Variation 8, which Mack chose to feature on the show’s postcard. The painter has explored rhythm and music in his work for years, using a style he calls “polyocular,” a style that’s on display here. As usual, Mitz’s exploration of, through expert use of color, unexpected connections between forms, shadows, and light results in a lovely composition.

“Both visually and the statement together, it sort of encapsulates the theme of this show really well,” Mack said of the piece.

Van Dyke, meanwhile, is showing an explosively vivid monoprint called Koi I featuring, you guessed it, a grouping of the fish, which he’s printed in gold over blue waves on an almost fluorescent orange background. In the accompanying statement adjacent to the piece, the artist specifically mentions Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, while also charmingly writing, “The rhythmic swing of schools of koi while swimming exude good vibrations that keep cats and humans fascinated for hours in the wild and backyard ponds worldwide.”

As noted about, however, several artists took a different tact when approaching the theme, amongst them, and works by Nathaniel Thompson, Lisa D. Watson, and Joy Dunigan are highlights.

Although the Supporter Gallery is a loop, and one can ostensibly travel around that loop in either direction, Mack said that most people experience shows in the space by walking in through the Sulfur Shop and down what would be the lefthand/southern hallway on the ground floor of 2301 Bull St., and proceeding around the square in a clockwise manner.  

Assuming that walking pattern, you’ll find Mitz’s piece discussed above on what might be thought of as “wall number one” of the gallery’s four walls. Turning right from there, “wall number 2” features a diptych by exciting young photographer Nathaniel Thompson (who recently wowed with his installation project “For Your Convenience” at Studio Capilla) that had me stopping for a longer look.

Technically the pieces, one called Rocks and one called Fish, are being sold individually, but in my mind they’re fully connected: Both are black and white; and the patterns are so similar that they just feel like they belong side-by-side.

Mack informed me that this is by design, and a concept the artist presented at a workshop he did at Cleo the Project Space a few months back. Thompson, she said, is working on some photo books right now that incorporate his use of this type of visual pairing, so it’s cool to get a little preview of that on the walls of the Supporter Gallery.

Turning right once more at the end of the hallway will bring you to “wall number three,” on the right side of which is Van Dyke’s aforementioned Koi I. Head straight, however, and you’ll end up face-to-face with Lisa D. Watson’s Humans, a mirrored cutout of the piece’s title. If you know the self-proclaimed “avant gardener’s” work and philosophy, you know how much she cares for this planet, and the piece screams at us to literally take a look in the mirror concerning the environmental issues that we face.

I loved standing before it, and encourage everyone reading this to experience it themselves.

From Humans, a clockwise pivot leads to the final leg of the show, which includes a beautiful hanging moss landscape painting by Heather Young (titled Cherry Hill Oaks) on the right wall, and a set of five long vertical drawings by Marsha Lieberman (collectively The Original Five) on the left wall, pieces the artist created in 2004 that explore polyhedral shapes (and which contain many, many hidden details worth searching for).

Also on the right wall is an abstract photographic relief by Joy Dunigan, who seems to be everywhere these days (she’s currently got work on view at both Location Gallery with Peter Roberts, and at the space she operates out in Richmond Hill, Deep South Photopoint Gallery).

It’s exciting to see the progress she’s made artistically over the past few years, and the piece she’s showing in Good Vibrations is one of her best yet. Called Acorn, the photograph reaches out towards the viewer in three layers, with the foremost layer most obviously depicting the nuts named in the title. Each successive layer abstracts the image further, and the piece overall gives me 1980’s tube television vibes, with the color scheme and horizontal lines that perpetuate it’s entirety.

There aren’t any truly weak spots in the exhibition, a testament to the community of creative supporters that ARTS Southeast has cultivated. Some artists are further along in their careers than others, of course, but walking into anything that ARTS Southeast has a hand in is always going to feature a mix of artists at different stages of their artistic development. The juxtaposition between the various artist’s works provides additional intrigue as well, making Good Vibrations an exhibition well worth the visit as we move into what is typically a slow summer period in the Savannah art scene.

“It’s really inspiring because when you put out a theme like that, you never know what kind of responses you’re gonna get,” said Mack near the end of our walk through the exhibition, The Beach Boys still ringing in the back of my head, even as she spoke. “A lot artists in this show found creative solutions to having just static work.”

If You Go >>

What: “Good Vibrations” at ARTS Southeast’s Supporter Gallery

When: Through August 10; Reception, 5 to 9 p.m., June 7

Where: 2301 Bull St.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *