May 1st Friday Trolley Hop

Posted by chaska on May 10, 2010

story by JENNI LAIDMAN
photos by JOEY HARRISON

Don’t worry if you missed the First Friday Trolley Hop on Market Street. Most galleries will have their shows up all month. Here’s a quick look some of the highlights in the NuLu area.

Reba Rye at Zephyr Gallery

At Zephyr Gallery, 610 East Market Street, check out the big photographic canvasses of Reba Rye of Frankfort. If you find photographs a bit cold for your taste, these will warm you up. They are often arranged as triptychs or diptychs, frequently with one panel showing a person turning away from the viewer. The idea is, you’re seeing their world, from their point of view. Each panel of the triptychs works at a different scale, from close-ups of sand to aerial shots of the U.S. West.

Amid the room-size pieces are occasional single panels, twice with airplane images serving as evocative transitions. Rye considers the art a narrative installation, and it’s these transition pieces that sold me on the concept. In one, a jet’s contrails streak half-way across a perfect blue sky. It reminded me of lying under the swing-set on a summer day, full of summer’s possibilities.

Reba Rye triptych at Zephyr Gallery

These are all digital photographs, shot with a Nikon D90 single-lens reflex and printed on fabric. The colors are vivid, warm and full of subtleties.

Tim Faulkner Gallery, 632 Market Street, Suite 1, is tucked down a little alley then up a flight of stairs. Don’t worry. You’ll find it. Just follow all the people. Faulkner’s is the most quirky of the Market Street galleries, which accounts for more than half its charm. The other half is the crowd: young, chatty, and abundant.

Charles Hall

Start with Charles Hall’s work, which takes up the red room at the top of the stairs. Hall’s work can be surprising and incredibly meticulous, and this show is a good example. Half are intricate playing-card-size portraits of superheroes and other comic book characters, work he also does for Marvel Comics. I had no idea this world existed, but Marvel buys some of his paintings and then occasionally includes original artwork among the trading cards it sells. There’s apparently a hot secondary market among collectors.
Hall also has a series of slightly larger vivid portraits of friends from the Third Street Dive, 440 South Third Street. And then there are his takes on classical art, particularly the witty Titian send-up in which Bacchus’s followers pass a McDonalds, no doubt looking for a place for more mythic appetites.

Margaret Spivey

Faulkner always shows a number of artists, and usually includes the abstracts of his gallery director Margaret Spivey . She wields paint in big, energetic strokes, with lots of angry reds. But her newest oil, of more neutral shads with flashes of yellow, has a Zen theme of embracing the moment. Its title is from “Madam Bovary” – I had to ask. I didn’t recognize it. “The powdered sugar even seemed to her whiter and finer than elsewhere.”

We were driven from Gallery Ex Voto, 634 East Market Street – it looked like that had some cool colorful woodcuts – by incredibly ear-splitting live electronic music, and headed over to Swanson Reed Contemporary Art , 638 East Market Street.

Is anyone else getting sick of assemblages? You know, those clever little boxes full of junk store finds artfully arranged? There needs to be an assemblage inspector to get this under control. Bad assemblages are ruining it for the few people who know how to actually make art this way.

Renee Shaw installation

And Renee Shaw, whose work is at Swanson, knows how. What’s different? First, no boxes. Second, no lace. Third, no obvious nostalgia. Fourth, no sentiment. Instead she creates her assemblages in Ball canning jars. Her Jesus statues and plastic men and flowers and pacifiers float in what looks like viscous liquid in jars lined up on shelves like so many very strange peach preserves. Two displays take up the gallery’s front windows and catch the light in a wonderful way. There’s something witty and profound about them. My only fear is that they’ll set off a wave of canning jar artists.

My favorite assemblage artist is in NuLu as well. Caroline Waite’s pieces, at Carr + Waite Studios, 221 Hancock Street, are novellas to get lost in. Some remind me of the artwork of Nick Bantock in The Griffin and Sabine. The boxes and suitcases are so carefully arranged, I start wondering about the history of the antique sunglasses or watch faces. No wonder she calls her website, The Secret Life of Objects.

If you’re an Ansel Adams fan, then you’ll like the mountains and glaciers and ice blocks of Bradford Washburn at the Paul Paletti Gallery, 713 East Market Street. In fact, Washburn was more than a photographer, he was also an explorer. You can learn more here. Paletti is also showing the photographs of Rolfe Horne, which seem to say many things at once. A photograph of four beacons from oil derricks off Santa Barbara seems like some strange petroleum Bethlehem. And I couldn’t decide if I should pray to or laugh at the goat atop a stump in some mist-enchanted landscape.

For the first time in a few months, Gnadinger Photographic Gallery, 707 East Market Street, was open for First Friday. Tom Gnadinger is trying something new after playing with images of people emerging from trees and walls. The new photos, taken in Bernheim Forest and Cherokee Park, achieve a sort of forest primeval feel with watery algal greens and dark slashes of tree trunk. He attains the look using slow shutter speed and smearing camera movement.

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