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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Textures and Edges

Art Review

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"Impressions,Prototypes & Impastos” (March 3 through April 27) at Katie Gingrass Gallery, 241 N. Broadway, should attract attention on Gallery Night & Day, April 18 & 19, when five artists exhibit paintings, pastels, furniture and glass. The Third Ward venue offers something for everyone, and fortunately their ever-changing inventory remains in place during specific showcase events.

David Schaefer, a “tenured Art Star consultant,” is employed by the gallery and his heavily textured oil paintings, conceptualizations of nature both tamed and wild, dominate the space. Shawn Messinger’s handblown glass objects echo the nature theme, along with funky furniture prototypes by UW- Parkside educator, Trenton Baylor. Colette Odya Smith offers pastel landscapes that explore edges; some are moderately successful, others are forced to the point where the edge (constructed of ripped or molded paper) threatens to sink the concept. Art worth considering embodies spirit and nerve; it prods beyond mere product. Sandra Kochan’s acrylic paintings left me as cold and barren as a winter garden. I guess I’m in the minority. An enthusiastic staffer told me “her paintings sell really well.”

Sometimes though, surprises arise when I wander around this gallery. Take time to discover the work of Jeffrey Kenney, a young and highly inventive artist who is also employed at Gingrass. He builds miniature sets (using painted backgrounds, plaster casts, modeled clay etc.), then photographs them with a digital camera and a telephoto macro lens.

The result is pure fantasy. You’ll get to see more of his intelligent output when Gingrass opens “Urban Perspectives” on May 2.