Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home Is Where the Art Is

Last week I had the opportunity to interview local advocate and writer, Gregory Flannery after visiting Isolation and Togetherness at The Carnegie. While I continue to engage the subject of homelessness and the arts, I wanted to also highlight the work by a few other artists showing as part of this show. Like the photographs in the main gallery, these artists explore images and notions of home through painting and sculpture.

Marcia Alscher is easily one of my favorite local artists. After 25 years as an architect, she began painting. Her small paintings of houses are expressions of color and geometric form. But while they are minimalist in style and exhibited together they may seem to be exercises in abstraction, each of these paintings are portraits. By eliminating the decorative elements of a building, Alscher reveals through color and line its core beauty. Normally we tend to look at architectural ornamentation that offer hints of history and culture. However, Alscher's precisionist approach exposes a culture of everyday life. This becomes much more apparent with this group of paintings that include not only 19th Century buildings in Covington, but also portraits of buildings in Italy. Architectural elements such as the dome of Florence, Italy set these buildings apart from those found near her studio. But the palette also changes. The colors recall for me the glow of the 17th Century Italianate landscapes. In these paintings, the color as much as the line help us to see the essence of home.

The work of Mallory Feltz also deals with notions of home and space. These works center around the familiarity of the two places the artist has lived, Cincinnati and Baton Rouge. Noting each city's tie to waterways, images and symbolism of bridges dominate the gallery. Her focus on familiar spaces though recognizes that home is not just the architectural building. Her assemblages are made of found pieces that reinforce the domestic space. Embroidery, yarn and fabric are elements highlighting the homemade. Feltz is also interested in our movement and interactions in these spaces. This is highlighted especially well in the repetition of bridges as symbol as well as actual spaces in both cities. Moving through the gallery space from images of Cincinnati and those of Baton Rouge seems to be an invitation by the artist to join her as she makes connections between the two cities, between objects and space, thus forcing a new familiarity on our connection to home.

These artists and others like Dominic Sansone, Sherman Cahal, Patrick Meier, and Alan Grizzell as well as the photography exhibit make Isolation & Togetherness at The Carnegie a remarkably engaging show exploring our connection to home and each other.