Saturday, February 18, 2006

From the Studio at the Katzen

The top floor gallery of the beautiful Katzen Arts Center’s galleries is currently hosting "From the Studio," a group show that brings together the artists that make up American University’s studio art faculty (both full time and adjunct professors).

It seems that more and more I like to reveal my hand very early on a review, especially when reviewing a group show, and let me tell you right away that the best work in this show is by Zoe Charlton, who is exhibiting several pieces from her Undercover Series (sorry - I don't have any good images).

Charlton, who works mixed media on vellum, is an artist who has managed to create and deliver on a very hard assignment: the marriage of sensuality with the most economical presentation possible. It is as in viewing her work, perhaps anchored by the bare presentation on vellum, we are seeing individual cels from an animated, sexy film, the kind that one would see at those artsy erotic film festivals in San Francisco or Seattle, but never here in DC.

In any event, this professor brings some fresh new ideas and loads of talent to our area, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of her work over the years.

AU students seeking to learn how to paint properly, should all immediately sign up for Ben Ferry’s class (I hope that he’s teaching paining); he’s without a doubt the best technical painter in the faculty, and his mysteriously-titled painting "Jumping in the Grass," easily shows that even the most common of subjects (in this case a dog) can be elevated to a sublime place by that most ancient of mediums, which keep surprising all of those who keep clamoring that painting is dead. As long as talented painters such as Ferry wield brushes, painting will never die.

Jumping in the Grass by Ben Ferry - represented by Marin-Price Gallery

Jumping in the Grass by Ben Ferry

Trawick Prize finalist Jeff Spaulding shows why he nearly won that highly competitive prize a few years ago, and his "Endgame" sculptural installation was not only evocative in its mental references to Saint Sebastian, but also popped into my head that famous painting by Frida Kahlo where she has depicted herself as a deer full of arrows.

Endgame by Jeff Spaulding - Represented by G Fine Art
Endgame by Jeff Spaulding

Luis Silva’s video installation, titled "March 6" and Susan Yanero’s weird and super busy "Mollie’s Life," a huge oil on canvas, rounded up what I thought were the most successful works in this group show.
Mollie's Life by Susan Yanero
"Mollie's Life" by Susan Yanero

Overall the exhibition is an excellent opportunity to peek inside the faculty at AU and discover both fresh new talent, established artists and the usual head-scratcher that comes along with any group show.

Exhibiting artists include Tom Bunnell, Zoe Charlton, Mary Cloonan, Billy Colbert, Tim Doud, Ben Ferry, Sharon Fishel, Carol Goldberg, Lee Haner, Kristin Holder, Tendai Johnson, Deborah Kahn, Don Kimes, Isabel Manalo, Mark Oxman, Randall Packer, Luis Silva, Jeff Spaulding, Robert Tillman, Seth Van Kirk, and Susan Yanero.

The exhibition runs through March 12, 2006.