The figure. Certainly the most prevalent object of representation in all of art. What is it that calls so strongly to the artist to create in his own image? Perhaps it is the fact that virtually all concepts of content can be embodied in the human form. Perhaps it is simply a Copernican-like belief that we (and hence our physical form) are the center of the universe in all senses of that word. Or perhaps it is just a form that is eternally handy.

For whatever reason, the images in this exhibition represent a variety of tales told to ourselves about our¬selves. Every character created by the artist is in some sense a self-portrait. These works are, therefore, these artists. The stories they tell are their own stories. The reality presented here is a world unto itself and, simultaneously, a clear part of our world in that we complete the image. We connect the referent with the sign to establish our own truth – if such a thing exists. All these people, whether rep¬resented by the artists or by their subjects, complete themselves in us – the viewer/reader.

In Stanford Peters we find a tightly wound figure that lashes out dangerously at a world offering little re¬lief from psychic pain other than through the infliction of pain on other beings. There is an aesthetic rightness in this transaction. Here is a formless figure that seems to spiral in¬ward in ever decreasing circles. He damages himself by damaging others. Similarly, Drubetta Rufston’s contribution is that of a simple, “primitive” survivor. This is a combatant in a battle against entropy, abuse, unconcern. Whittled away to a sparse core, she can only defend herself against fellow travelers, given the complete invisibility of any true enemy.

Robert Mann gives us a different slant on this theme in that his figure represents the somewhat helpless victims that are buffeted by life’s least breeze. Though these small traumas are briefly devastating, we are given the sense that there is strength in the same reduced affect that allows these figures to bend without breaking. So too with Roland Trelisman. His is also a character helpless in a direct struggle with entropy. Aging is a fact that we all face alone in the early morning hours. Here too we all must simply bend to the truths of our existence. We each search valiantly for the same optimistic insight – that we weren’t all placed here simply to watch television.

Marion Jacobi and Anna Abadorf offer a glimpse of a simple world populated by those who are on guard against encroaching evils. These characters are slightly startled by their own sensuality. It is a frightened smile that is proffered.

Felix Calhoun and Tomas Epinack give us another glimpse at good and evil as compliments in one character. These two sides reflect a disturbing human ease in supporting a personal reality that allows glib intercourse between cruelty and compassion, clear knowledge and professed ignorance.

Where simple pleasures and pungent memories are stirred by the timeless textures that surround us, Walter Chollit, Hiram Tulbiston and Maynette Sissol dance expertly. Theirs is a provocative challenge to hear the music of time that is playing in the background whether we stop and listen or not. Utilizing an image reversal, Bob Shallow issues a similar challenge. What is it that we are striding to¬ward? How do we find a concrete foothold in a reality that can appear as a cardboard cutout in a windstorm of daily challenges? Easy answers often reflect shallow questions (pun intended).

Arron Clutterman provides a larger challenge. What do we make of an almost predatory evil dressed in good ol’ boy garb? We cannot be sure where intent gives way to blind action. This is the terror evoked by the circus clown when his distorted image frightfully fills the vision of an unknowing child. No manner of explanation can allay such fear in us all. A similar kind of horror lurks in the religious shadows explored by Minny Siblet. There is a loss of contact here. This dependence on a greater power to provide solace for deep wounds inflicted by fate is understandable, even if irrational. It is perhaps easier to behave irrationally in an irrational world.

Such an explanation is invoked by Louise Studderfield. There is the simplest of rebellions against the simplest of encroachments. Civilization attacks and is responded to in an uncivilized manner. What could be more plain to a plain person? Such a truly delicate response seems quite natural. Ben Waifal provokes a similar response. With him facades are important. He sees the need for an irrational response to an ordered world where style betrays a lack of substance and straw bosses and straw men are often indeed like the scarecrow in search of a brain. These are clear targets. Once fired upon, however, we fear the results of their dissolution.

Dooley Sutton seems to stand alone. This work is in some ways elementally primitive and in others too sophisticated for any sort of quick insight. This character’s world shrinks so greatly that there is hardly room for examination. Whatever form escape arrives in seems equally tantalizing. Here is a tribute to heroic efforts and simple solutions. With a nod to the Beatles – leaving is easy with eyes closed.

In essence, all these folks are just coping. Whether author, artist, model, or fictive character; these are “real” people in “real” worlds getting by in the usual ways. They are very like the rest of us in the in “our” world(s). Perhaps there is nothing new here at all. Perhaps this is only the latest version of the hand print on the cave wall. But, locked in Plato’s cave, that is quite the best we can do.

Soloman Finnis

I growed up po and ignant in Alabama. Then I went off to college and became a socialistic atheistic business school grad with an MBA. Not wanting to add evil capitalistic bastard to my resume, I obtained an antidote degree -the MFA. What a difference a letter makes. Now I teach college and make art. That's more fun and I'm less prone to drift toward the dark side. So, at the advanced age of sixty.... I have chosen mind over matter, joined the League of Defensive Pessimists and have no better answers, only fewer questions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: