Thursday, September 25, 2008

Garden Variety: Art City Review

Mary Louise Schumacher recently posted a review of Garden Variety on her Art City blog. You can read the review below, or in its original form HERE.

Garden Variety show at Armoury
By Mary Louise Schumacher
Thursday, Sep 25 2008, 01:40 PM

Over at the Armoury Gallery, 1718 N. 1st St., Minneapolis-based artists Erika Olson and Joseph Sinness have art on view through Oct. 4.

Plump seeds and pods erupt across the page in an ecstatic surge, a cannonade of strange, organic matter gushing and commingling, in Olson's gouache and graphite works. That this rapturous bursting, an illusion to reproduction, both plant and human, is restrained into submission by Olson's almost computer-like fine lines, flat areas of color and subdued pastel colors creates an intriguing tension. The stop motion-like, precise manmade-ness of the scene demands careful inspection and begs the question: what is more beautiful, naturalism or idealism?

What hurtles and collides in Sinness' visual garden, as opposed to Olson's stuff of earth, is more of the good-and-evil, metaphysical sort. Nature is on a punishing rampage, doing unprecedented things in many of Sinness' color pencil drawings. Giant sea barnacles appear to seize a red AMC Pacer in its tracks in one piece, while a monster, an amalgam of worms, weeds, bugs and fangs, prepares to pounce on a rabbit, unaware and innocently chomping on flowers in another.

"Clouder" is a violent, upward outbreak of cat heads, all writhing, each one emerging from another like bizarre appendages. Imagine an epic cat melee concentrated into a single, explosive heap. There is a lush, fullness to this odd cornucopia of kitties, too. With ears perked, their blue and orange Bette Davis eyes dart this way and that, as if they've got prey in sight. The battle of evil and light is rarely this much fun.

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