Friday, November 11, 2011
By Tom Wachunas
“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” - Blaise Pascal –
“We search for flares of existence and acknowledgement of being. Our mortality becomes glaringly obvious, as the world around us and those within it start to fade away. Peace is a visitor.” – Marti Jones Dixon, from her statement accompanying her painting, “Self at 50,” at Anderson Creative -
“…So it falls to us to illuminate, magnify, reveal.” - Craig Joseph, from “Dementia”, a written work in the exhibition “Into the Light” at Anderson Creative -
One way to embrace the function of art is to think of it as a metaphor for light. Or think of making and encountering art as a celebration of what light is and does. Here, I don’t mean art merely as well-crafted mimetic object – an imitation or illusion – but rather art in its ever-evolving, performative function to explore and reveal the essence of a person, place, thing, or thought. And if we consider light itself as that phenomenon which allows or inspires us to apprehend a physical or spiritual ‘reality’, art at its most powerful is an embodiment of that phenomenon, and a necessary one at that.
And so it is that Anderson Creative continues to mount courageous, innovative, and yes, enlightening thematic exhibitions that are compelling expansions of the purposes and practices of conventional galleries. The current show – called “Into the Light” - features seven local artists who have embraced the subject of light, literally and symbolically, and who collectively provide a deeply meditative and elaborate sensory experience for the viewer.
The gallery has been made over into three separate, intimately appointed rooms, each focused on a particular aspect of interpreting the idea of light – as a physical entity, a manifestation of spirituality and myth, and attaining enlightenment/awareness in matters of mortality and afterlife.
Marcy Axelband’s large painting, “Sometimes Light Is Dark,” is a stunning, very red abstract diptych. Its loose, sweeping strokes intertwine to form a kind of wrinkled texture – a symbol, perhaps, of the rarefied act of seeing. The markings seem to be simultaneously congealing and dispersing, all bristling with a painterly muscularity reminiscent of Willem De Kooning’s urgent expressionism. Lynn Digby’s portraits and landscapes here are easily among her most dramatic and well-painted in recent memory. Her “Lana’s World” is at once telling and eerily silent, with its distant fires burning in the murky night, yet oddly hopeful in its suggestion of a transcendent light source outside the picture plane. The light in Marti Jones Dixon’s powerful, four-section self-portrait, “Self at 50,” is uncompromising in its harsh exposure of progressive aging – a force that sculpts mortality. And Michele Waalkes’ elegant digital prints are masterfully subtle, gentle visions of forms and shadows in ghostly light.
Speaking of ghostly light, filmmaker Andrew Rudd’s “Shadows of Progress” is a haunting, wispy video projection of the headlights from cars reflected on his living room walls, passing by in a mesmerizing, somewhat lonely procession of luminous streaks. In a similarly contemplative, poetic spirit, Craig Joseph’s written works are poignant reflections on significant, even cathartic moments and circumstances, wherein ‘light’ is the realization of some personal truth.
A notably sublime addition to this exhibit is the recorded original music by Paul Digby. It’s a sumptuously orchestrated aural backdrop, classical and Romantic in emotional sensibility, and otherwise achingly beautiful in its often reverential, hymn-like lyricism and rich choral textures.
This show is yet one more remarkable example of Anderson Creative's unique nurturing of art as a fully cognitive journey into perception. I’m reminded that on one level, we see a thing only because of the light it reflects. Yet in its reflecting, the thing seen becomes a light in itself, inspiring and illuminating our imagination. Here, we viewers are encouraged to be more than passive observers of static objects. Rather, we enter the possibility of becoming collaborators in creation, to better know our own inner light.
Photo, courtesy Anderson Creative, “Lana’s World,” oil, by Lynn Digby. On view at Anderson Creative through November 26 at 331 Cleveland Ave. NW, downtown Canton. Hours are Noon – 5p.m. Wed.-Sat.