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Bold Statements: The Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, Through May 1 at Augustana College - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Friday, 11 March 2011 05:25

Jessica Gondek, 'Sagrada Familia I'

Jessica Gondek’s oil on canvas work Sagrada Familia I has a similar size, format, and color scheme. This painting also has a black background, covered with overlapping red and white wire-frame conical shapes. The painting contains a middle layer with thick, light-green paint applied in a way that echoes and gives depth to the cones. Upon close inspection, one can see areas where parts of this layer have been scratched into, providing visual interest and textural variety.

Differences in scale and the overlapping of the shapes suggest that they are in motion, and the contrast between the black background and the red and white foreground lines establishes a sense of energy. The name of the work provides possible interpretations: Do the shapes represent an aspect of family or religion, or are they meant to resemble the spires of the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona? Whatever you see in it, the deep black with vibrant red, the precisely organized lines, the repetition, and the composition combine to create a work at once elegant and forceful.

Terry Rathje, 'What It Takes'

Terry Rathje’s mixed-media What It Takes is about three feet in diameter, with the words “Great Energy” (using letters from old signs) along the perimeter of the top half and “Great Curiosity Great Vision” (using cut-up license plates) along the bottom. The top half features a flat, graphic sunrise made of yellow scrap metal. The bottom contains collaged images from various retro print sources, including a section of a Rembrandt painting, an illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and illustrations of angels, children, and birds. At the center of it all is a mid-20th Century graphic of a proud-looking boy. The use of antique advertising, religious, artistic, and children’s imagery with re-purposed industrial detritus feels nostalgic, but the tone is ambiguous: These cultural artifacts are visually uplifting and unified, yet they almost seem too sweet.

Sculpture, with only 10 works selected, isn’t nearly as well-represented as two-dimensional art in the show. Many functional sculptures exhibit subdued beauty and fine craftsmanship, and a few other three-dimensional pieces stand out, intellectually and aesthetically vigorous. But their subtlety and relatively small scale mean they’re somewhat lost among the more vibrant 2D standouts.

Scott Lammer, 'Loud Mouth'

Scott Lammer re-imagines the form of a teapot in his ceramic work Loud Mouth. The body resembles a pointed egg, with a similar shape repeated for the handle, stopper, feet, and base of the spout. The center form is covered with tapered spikes, and two small, simplified, gold American flags – intentionally scratched and abraded – have been painted on the surface. The spout itself resembles a bullhorn. With its allusions to politics and speech, Loud Mouth cleverly references the tea-party movement. The cartoony appearance of the shapes, the aggressive spikes, and the disparaging title represent an unmistakable critique.

Joan Webster-Vore, 'Connection #1'

Joan Webster-Vore’s Connection #1 is a precise wooden frame, about one foot squared, containing thin, cut branches. The sticks on the bottom, standing upright, are mostly lopped off before they fork, while the sticks hanging from the top are thinner and longer, branching off before being trimmed. The branches frame a void, and the careful creation of this negative space implies meaning. Connection #1 exhibits simple, spare media use but is notable for its openness and visual balance.

Although they’re overwhelmed by the boldness of much of the two-dimensional work, these sculptural pieces, and some of the more low-key hanging work, are worth seeking out.

The Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition runs through May 1 in Augustana College’s Centennial Hall art gallery (3703 Seventh Avenue in Rock Island). The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and on April 3, April 10, April 17, and May 1. (The gallery will be closed April 22 to 24.) A reception for the exhibit will be held Friday, April 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Michelle Garrison is a mixed-media artist who teaches art and design at Geneseo Middle School and J.D. Darnell High School. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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