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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'Artists Explore Place' at Racine Art Museum

Art Review

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When an artist creates a place, it can be an actual location or an expression from the imagination, a specific geographical site or a state of mind. In the Racine Art Museum exhibition "Field of Vision: Artists Explore Place," artists' visions appear to represent a poetic state of grace.

In the museum's second-level gallery, nine artists work to define the abstract concept of place through relief and sculptural forms involving fiber work, jewelry, paper quilling, porcelain clay and metalwork. Juxtaposing a complicated construction with an allusive, minimal representation of place allows the viewer to conceive his/her own narrative, layering the art with multiple meanings.

Jolynn Krystosek casts natural wax and then carves it into oval-shaped floral reliefs resembling lockets from the Victorian era. Without any wax being removed or added, the pliable material is carefully sculpted to create monochromatic tributes to ages past.

The equally fascinating bronze castings by Beverly Penn portray calligraphic vines with minute leaves, thistles and seedpods. The joined vines seem to twist and turn with sensual precision, capturing a Midwestern field run wild.

Harold O'Connor's silver and gold pin Mt. Fuji is the lone work that refers to an actual place. His other pieces reference mountains in diminutive jewelry, as with the necklace titled Ancient Volcano.

Colombian artist Olga De Amaral creates cotton, linen, gesso, acrylic paint and gold leaf wall hangings. The approximately 8-by-3-foot Umbra 31 subtly shimmers with undulating metallic cotton and linen strips stitched into a bird's-eye view of a magical, contemporary landscape.

These works of art, surrounded by ample wall space, encourage viewers to look beyond their preconceived notions and contemplate the metaphorical significance of specific places.

"Field of Vision: Artists Explore Place" continues through Oct. 2.