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An Artist in Awe, an Artist in Control PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Tuesday, 12 February 2002 18:00
In the two-person exhibit at the MidCoast Fine Arts Gallery in LeClaire, visitors can see one artist who is in awe of his medium and subject matter, and another who enjoys manipulating her medium to fit her subject matter. The exhibit features Dean Kugler’s drawings and Adrienne Seagraves’ ceramics and will be on display through March.

Seagraves uses a black-glaze and scribing technique that yields a pottery style reminiscent of ancient Greek and Etruscan ceramics. The scribing creates a representational pattern that forms a two-dimensional object, in relief, upon the three-dimensional pottery. She shows her sense of humor with her corn pot, which is a vase that has a surface texture resembling rows of corn kernels and a black glazed image of an ear of corn forming the relief pattern of the pot. Even the overall shape of the vase resembles an ear of corn.

My favorite piece in her show is the pot titled Trees, with a short squat shape and the image of an ancient oak tree scribed into it. The pot is elegant in its simplicity and grace.

“What excites me about making art is first having an idea and developing it mentally,” Seagraves writes in her artist’s statement. “What intrigues me is transforming that idea into a visible work. This can be seductive, risky, relaxing, surprising, [and] defeating, but always informative. Choices are made based on experience but also on the unexpected influences the materials provide. … It still amazes me how a lump of clay responds to, and records, each individual’s touch, and how it can then be transformed into a durable object.”

Kugler is a very accomplished draftsman; his drawing technique is superb. If you like fine drawing for the appreciation of the line and shading, you will love his work.

But I think Kugler’s artist statement recognizes that he is about to take his art to the next level, one in which he is no longer in awe of the figure but uses his drawing skill to communicate: “I have yet to find anything more compelling than the human figure. Through its use, I am able to communicate ideas, concerns, and feelings better than with any other image. ... As an artist who deals primarily with the figure, I understand the necessity to distinguish myself from other artists who work with the figure. I am very interested in fragmentation.”

It appears that in the charcoal drawing Into This, Kugler is trying to do something with the figure. He has added geometric shapes to cut into the image of a face, while in most of the other works, his drawings simply show the figure in various poses. The compositions look as if they were done in a life-drawing studio session, and his technique resembles what one might see in a Michangelo sketchbook; it is clear that Kugler has a sculptural vision.

It will be interesting to see how he develops in the next few years, as he tries to shift from an artist who can draw the figure exceptionally well to somebody who communicates well. Kugler has worked so hard to develop his drawing vocabulary that I’m excited to see what he has to say using the “words” his charcoal, resin, or printmaking skills give form to.

The current exhibit is well worth the time it takes to go to the Mississippi Valley Welcome Center in LeClaire. These two artists have professional works that are reasonably priced. Seagraves’ 20 glazed stoneware pots are priced from $100 to $250, while Kugler’s 16 large drawings are mostly priced from $250 to $550, with a few from $800 to $1,100.

The show will feature an artists’ reception on Friday, February 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. Music will be provided by Jazz Encounters.
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