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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reflections on the Roaring Twenties

‘Art in the Jazz Age’ at Cedarburg Cultural Center

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The Cedarburg Cultural Center’s “Art in the Jazz Age: 2013 Annual Juried Exhibition” features works by Wisconsin artists employing diverse media in their reflections on the intertwined history and artistic disciplines of the 1920s. Although some of the works reference styles actually used in the period, the work is also thoroughly modern—at its best, drawing connections between past and present through visual and intellectual signifiers.

Patrick M. Doughman’s Young Pablo Picasso’s Mind Set, for instance, includes a portrait of the great artist painted in an only slightly nonrealistic style, and set off by elements that—in keeping with Picasso’s own style—are fully deconstructed. This complex egg tempera piece stimulates reflection upon not only Picasso as an individual artist, but also the mental state endemic to the Jazz Age.

An Honorable Mention-winning piece by Kathleen Irons Sweeney, Close Enough for Jazz, is an even more modern take on historical subject matter. In this beautiful, quilted fiber artwork, we find the stenciled silhouette of a trombone player whose music seems to emanate from him in all directions thanks to the clever painting technique.

Most striking among the several mixed-media pieces included is Janet Roberts’ Keeping Secrets, which overlays an oil portrait of an elderly woman and her dog on top of the repeated image of an antique postage stamp depicting a young woman (perhaps in her prime?). A vintage feather boa frames the work and speaks further of the nostalgia and long-kept secrets suggested by the title.

Winner of the Best of Show Award, Erin Callahan Blum’s acrylic Midnight Blues is an atmospheric depiction of a jazz club rendered in cool blues with red accents. Full of movement and life, this portrait of a sextet performing before a live audience defies temporal placement, effectively reminding us of the ongoing power of jazz through the last century of American history.

“Art in the Jazz Age” is on display through
March 24 at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, W62 N546 Washington Ave., Cedarburg.