Week Fifty Two

Review: Select Cuts

Posted in 2007 Archives by sarahbakerhansen on 23 February 2007

by Sarah Baker

By the time someone calls you “of the moment,” you’re usually passé.

Select Cuts, a carefully curated group show at the Jewish Community Center Gallery, avoids that stigma. It focuses on a handful of young, up-and-coming Nebraska artists and, for the sake of being taken seriously, throws in a few familiar young people who are already among the area’s most accomplished new faces.

The show’s curator, artist J. Lynn Batten, writes an intriguing statement on the show’s invitation, outlining the show’s goal of exhibiting artists that in some way are “set apart.”
“For as long as there have been established art communities, there have been artists within them who usher in new practices, principles and perceptions of expression,” the statement reads. “While often varying in media and subject matter, the collective power of these individual’s work has had the ability to revolutionize the definition of art.”

Including new work by Peggy Gomez, Joey Lynch and Jake Gillespie — the three original founders of Lincoln’s still-closed Tugboat Gallery and some of the most innovative young artists in Nebraska — gives the show a solid base and fits in perfectly with its goal. All three show excellent pieces, each building on work they’ve shown in the past.

Lynch, newly transplanted to Omaha with a studio snuggled in the basement of the Bemis Center, shows a few new prints that have a more painterly feel than his older work.
“America’s Hardest Hitting” features his familiar kitschy screen print work to one side, but lower on the piece, there are visible brushstrokes, as though he painted over the screen print, or did some brush work before printing. Regardless, he seems to be moving his technique somewhere new.

Gillespie shows two pencil drawings, done in his familiar style. His recent focus has been more on video pieces, but he doesn’t show that work here, instead focusing on the two-dimensional. Gomez shows a few mixed media pieces, the best being “Mixed Media with Zeppelin,” featuring a little floating blimp suspended in front of a familiar Gomez collage.
Paris-based artist Anthony Mundy shows a series of illustrations that are some of the most humorous pieces I’ve seen in some time. They don’t take themselves too seriously and invite the viewer to break the gallery stigma of silent art perusal: In fact, my gallery viewing companion and I laughed boisterously a number of times while we looked at his work. Our favorite was a small drawing of a cow sitting in an armchair watching a television. A bubble above the cow’s head read something akin to the film being “moooving.” The animal’s big, watery eyes and gangly body made me think of vintage “Ren & Stimpy” cartoons. A viewer needs to see it to appreciate.

Omaha artist Andrew Hershey, a printmaker and installation artist, presented photographic works that juxtaposed domestic scenes — kitchens, doorways and other images swiped from a suburban enclave — behind ghostly, partially transparent humans doing tasks in the spaces. They felt moody and had an American Beauty-esque feel of detachment and isolation; whether this was deliberate, I couldn’t tell. His artist statement says he aims to capture the mundane and the beauty of everyday occurrences: The work accomplished that goal, but for this viewer also had an intriguing layer of disconnection.

Lincoln fiber and fashion artist Mary Pattavina showed three whimsical hats that I really, really wanted to put on my head (I refrained). “Victorian Itty Bitty Cocktail Hat,” “Mustard Itty Bitty Cocktail Hat” and “Brown Itty Bitty Cocktail Hat” were transported from a different era and planted in a gallery. One had a tiny satin veil, a second had a big, gold flower and the final had a brown ball made of feathers. They were Christina Aguilera meets Lady Di meets Dame Edna but with an extra dose of class. It’s hard to mesh vintage with now and not be either kitschy or dated: Pattavina’s work achieved the perfect balance and that balance, above all, made me want to wear it.

Select Cuts continues at the Jewish Community Center Gallery, 333 S. 132nd St., through Feb. 27. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

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