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No Dead Artists

Art Review: Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Exhibit Goes Inside Greeting Card, 'Down the Hall'

Julia Street's Jonathan Ferrara Gallery is in the midst of its 17th annual national juried exhibition, “No Dead Artists,” through September 28.  The show is dense with talent, to state it conservatively, and just as filled with differing mediums.


The gallery is practically bursting at the seams with assemblage, paintings, installation, modified organic objects, vinyl decal, dolls and textiles.  The winning artist will enjoy a one-person show at the gallery in 2014.  


“No Dead Artists” is a feast for the eyes (and also the ears, coincidentally) thanks to sculptor/video artist/performance artist Cristina Molina. Her work “Dearest” is a massive, free-standing greeting card that the viewer can walk into.  The work could easily be retitled “Love in the Time of Mass Consumption,” with its clever commentary on gifting the best sentiment money can buy.  Molina has recorded an interactive greeting that plays and stops as a motion sensor detects movement inside the card.  The work itself is a wan shade of white, has a non-committal message to cover every conceivable occasion, and is as beautiful to look at as it is stinging to decode.  The poetic notation inside the card guarantees that if we follow the sing-song formula, we can wish well and avoid offending anyone, anywhere, on any occasion.


Another highlight is the shadow box sculptural acrylic prints of Gwen Samuels.  Samuels' hand paints deep, open frames and inhabits them with assemblies of fantastical imaginary buildings composed of repetitive architectural elements. Her compositions feature sculptural stairways, daring cantilevers, convex porticos, leaflike balconies, and flourishes for spires.  Her creations have a satisfying symmetry and an exotic feel about them.  Samuels conceives her architectural fantasies and fleshes them out in formidable shadow.  The works have a curious appeal, incorporating elements of the mutability of the digital with the alchemy of stitch, casting an appealing shadow that unlocks the imagination in a particularly modern way.


The bright tapestries of Kathy Halper were what stood out about this show.  This reviewer couldn’t have imagined how dense and heavy the embroidery would be, their technical accuracy nearly outshining their ironic subject matter.  Their Botticellian color schemes depict actual photos Halper observes on social media sites and literally frames them in the vernacular of the old-fashioned. Captioned with acronym slang, YOLO takes on a different shine seen through the eyes of a self-professed mom.  Halper, an incredibly talented mom, articulates her admitted “awkward” rapport with the internet with a whole lot of swagger.


Among the several painters in the show is the lush work of Indianapolis artist Marna Shopoff.  Her diptych “Down the Hall” captures light cast through the hallways of a commercial space rich with scarlet reds and metallic gold.  Although the colors are not those we might typically associate with a public space, Shopoff seems to refuse to edit the showy aspects of a natural sunset. “Down the Hall” looks like golden afternoon sun cast romantically, unapologetically, realistically on sober built walls. Shopoff’s canvases are amply sized to the task but not ostentatious, the perfect scope for documenting her subject.


There are only three instances of overlap in terms of medium in the show of some 20-plus artists’ works. There are three or more artists working with assemblage in vastly different techniques, two stitching acrylic prints, one working in elaborate vinyl decal, and a few painters. Each is worth seeing in his or her own right. “No Dead Artists” at Ferrara is rich with fresh, exciting work that should be experienced in person.


No Dead Artists is on view at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (400a Julia Street) through Sept. 28.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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