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Monday, June 18, 2012

Time is the Thread that Binds

Finding Connections at Walkers Point Arts Center

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The word “continuum” implies a connection between things. The “Time Arts Continuum” exhibition highlights time as connective tissue between the works of seven contemporary Midwestern artists. There are a myriad of materials involved such as video, sound, pictures, plus an antique barber chair.

The aforementioned chair is the centerpiece of Sam Blanchard's “...a little off the top...”, arguably the most lighthearted work in the show. The gleaming white chair is elevated about ten feet and a video of a bearded man is projected on the seat back. He takes off his glasses so the grooming may begin, though the shave and haircut he receives are not from the supple hand of a barber, but weirdly robotic and very awkward arms. The slathering of shaving lotion is pretty humorous, but things get even more farcical when it comes time for work with razor and scissors. Our apprehensive protagonist is a good sport, and wittily communicative through his facial expressions.


Dean Valadez's I Wish I Were Here II spills from the wall to the floor, framed by an implied grid suggested by pictures of beefcakey males interspersed with colorful squares. Videos flash a jarring mix of sports, cartoons, and a man bashing the furniture and walls in a bedroom. Life-size figures are part of the installation; a couple lie collapsed under a cardboard box and a single figure is suspended in the air, the torso vanishing into a box and while feet dangle, propped up by a wooden pole. It's quite an emotional mix - frustration and fantasy, desire and violence, homoeroticism and hedonism. Valadez does not come forth with a succinct narrative, but rather like the implied grid underlying everything, there are omissions to work out yourself.


Other pieces lean more toward a purely sensory experience. The music of bell monks forms the soundtrack to Arbor I-V. Trees are filmed as a tangle of branches and a canopy of patterns in the sky. It is meditative and encourages the drift of thoughts. Jeff Herriott contributes a sonic piece in the form of Ladonnatudina, based on a chord drawn out and manipulated. It is subtle, and seems overpowered by the audio and visual distractions around it. Jessica Teckemeyer's Listen 1-3 is played through three giant, aqua-blue ears hung on the wall. Crouch down and get close to hear mysterious burbles.


In the adjacent gallery, have a seat on the cushy stool for a rapid-fire journey. With two large video screens and rumbling ambient sounds, Lynn Lukkas's Through the Night is a rush and exhausting as travel itself. The footage comes from Norway, near the Arctic Circle, on a night train where the sun never sets. A flat light settles over the blurred landscape, filled with endless trees and sky. There is sometimes a sudden stop, a jolt that rests the eyes, and then takes up the journey again. Time never stops, but it can be stretched and contorted, experienced in art as an ever-evolving continuum.


“Time Arts Continuum” is on view through June 30 at Walker's Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. 5th Street, Milwaukee.