I cannot recall in my lifetime having more instances of friends telling me: “You have to go see the Walker Exhibit.” Word on the street was, “Oh my god, it’s fantastic.” And I noticed that almost everyone I talked to were not inclined to be more articulate about what it was they loved. It was just, “I loved it. It was fantastic.”
I am not at all plugged in to the “Art Scene.” But I have seen great art, and I’ve seen great shows at Walker: Warhol, the Calder mobiles, the incredible Rothko show in 1978.
And, wow – Yes – Pacita Abad did not disappoint.
Four of us went. Three of us loved it. The one who didn’t said this to me: “I don’t get it.” And yes, a lot of Pacita’s work is abstract, as in “nothing but color.”
Some of the other work is almost “on the nose,”with vivid and clear political statements. Some of the work is representational in other ways. For instance, there are two distinct series of masks. One series depicting seven distinct indigenous cultural lands. The other is like a beam of light blasting from the wall – two “painted mosaics” of the most brilliant color and geometrical design.
I imagined what it would be like to be in a square room with two of those on each wall. It would be LOUD with energy. You could clear your mind in a room like that. Or, bombard it... I was reminded of my first experience in the Jackson Pollock room at MOMA. Some people walk in and walk right back out. I like to walk in and revel in the volume of the room, the intensity coming at me from every direction.
But while Pollock is wild and “uncontrolled,” Pacita is focused and meticulous. Sewn into her paintings might be tiny pink shells that form the pattern on a blanket. Or, what look to be orange draperies are actually tiny painted yellow and red diamonds. The vibrating masks, when you get up close, have “pointillistic” elements, geometrically intricate, like Mia’s Tibetan Sand Painting.
You get up close to what looks like stone mosaic... and it turns out to be fabric.
One of my favorite pieces appears about halfway through the exhibit. Titled “Cross-cultural Dressing,” it depicts three women from other cultures, and on the far right, is the American. What we have to distinguish ours... is not the hair, nor the shape or color of the outfit, not the cut of the outfit, not the style. Rather what we have is the Nike shoes and the Revlon hair and the Corporate names over every aspect of ourselves. The painting sometimes reads like one of those test questions from elementary school: “Which of these does not belong with the others?”
It’s both on-the-nose and profound.
Was she ahead of her time?
This painting is from 1993. Pacita Abad died in 2004. And I’m sorry to say... the exhibit just closed last week...
UPPING THE VIBE AGAIN
I wrote a couple months ago about the Jones Coffee / Linden Hills House of Music collaboration which brings local live acoustic music to the Jones locations on Xerxes and in the village. Now Jones is upping the vibe again with two single-artist, gallery-style shows in his two locations.
At 50th and Xerxes is a collection of “torn paper assemblages” by artist Neysa Winterer. Like Abad’s work, these landscapes and still-lives sometimes look like Impressionist paintings, but they are instead made of carefully constructed layers of torn paper. Using a rich and varied palette of complementary patterns and colors, the artist creates images that are both reflective and compelling, both flat and deep. You are almost asked to think... to reflect... on how the artist had to work to make these. The form itself is contemplative.
The Upton and 43rd Jones Coffee in the village is hosting the premiere public showing of the work of Diane Mach. She began painting six years ago “en plein air” with oils, but recently started working in acrylics, making abstracts and abstract landscapes with textures and scrapes embedded in the canvas. Her palette is wide as a color wheel, and there’s both subtle and assertive balance in her work.
I recommend you go see them!
Before they disappear.