Monday, March 30, 2009

MICA's MFA Thesis Exhibitions

reviewed by Yumi Hogan
MICA's MFA Thesis Exhibition
March 27-May 3
1300 Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21217

With more than 40 artists exhibiting, MICA has chosen to break this year’s MFA Exhibition into three separate shows highlighting approx. 15 artists each group for a period of two weeks. Last Friday’s opening brought excitement and relief as many students could see the light at the end of their graduate study tunnel. One artist in particular, Jin Young Kang, commented that the MFA journey was well worth the effort. Her work, inspired by natural landscapes, has a strong emphasis on obsessive marks and geometric shapes; it was well reviewed by all those in attendance. All of her works display a well-balanced set of color, shape and space. Her attention to detail is critical in evoking her determined sense of self. Kang began as a painting/drawing student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will complete her MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art this spring.

The entire exhibit is housed in three galleries- Decker, Meyerhoff and Fox and incorporates master candidates from MICA’s Graphic Design, Hoffberger School of Painting, Mount Royal School of Art, Photographic and Electronic Media, and Rinehart School of Sculpture programs.

MFA Thesis Exhibition II (Friday, April 10-Sunday, April 19) features a reception on Friday, April 10, 5-7 p.m., and gallery talks Wednesday, April 1, 1-4:30 p.m.

A reception for MFA Thesis Exhibition III (Friday, April 24-Sunday, May 3) takes place Friday, April 24, 5-7 p.m., and gallery talks are Wednesday, April 29, 1-4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Revolution or Repair…

by Barry Hampton

Eric Beltz creates “high-definition” allegorical drawings of Founding Fathers, colonists, flannel clad lumberjacks felled in piles of wood, skull headed pioneers, and poisonous plant life. At first look, one is absorbed by his astonishingly sophisticated drafting skills. As looking continues the viewer is drawn in by a complicated web of symbols, historical references, and text. Violence, natural destruction, and psychedelic aspects are entertaining, but as the reading continues one realizes that the artist’s engagement with history and the American origin myth is deep and much more subtle, this is not a cheap formal or pictorial thrill.
To Eric Beltz, the Founding Fathers are intensely conflicted but contemplative, bare-footedly engaged in the natural world, it’s plant lore, it’s natural bounty, but also bent on harvesting and chopping it to increase their personal wealth. They have a desire for equity and justice.

Fuck It

In “Fuck It,” John Adam’s is quoted, “While conscience claps let the world hiss,” but all of the founders’ honor and goodness is directly attached to their moral failings and compromises. Floating heads represent this separation of thought and action. The pieces in Pulse are riddled with text and symbolism that addresses this contradiction. In “The Good Land” Beltz states, “To learn something and to practice it.”
Beltz’s references are wide-ranging, from the King James Bible, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and the writings of early Americans. His handling of graphite is sophisticated, analytical and one cannot help but think of Grant Wood at the same time 18th and 19th century etching. This analytical approach as well as his well rounded understanding of Plant-lore and American History allows us to believe his allegory. As a result, we also discover the believability of his critique and its relationship to present day conundrums.

Tree of the Evil Eagle

The Artist’s criticism reveals the flaws that are built into the American origin myth. Specifically, the Founding Fathers’ connection to generational problems in race relations, identity, and Beltz seems to suggest the natural world. The work would fall short if the questions stopped here. His work challenges the viewer to re-navigate, and clarify the American past as a way of actually dealing with the aforementioned reoccurring problems we face. Where some critics view Beltz’s angle as a grisly/macabre perspective of the Founders, I perceive some subtle reverence.

Holy Ambrosia

He does harbor romantic notions about these figures and undoubtedly believes that there are some saving graces built into the idea of our republic. This is of course evidenced in his draftsmanship and the thoughtful poses of the conflicted revolutionaries. From this, the work sends forth one last question, revolution or repair? He directs ‘Washington’ himself, or itself, to “Think before you speak… Go back to the starting point, the core of the soul out of which you came.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cell Phones Diagrams Cigarettes Searches and Scratch Cards

Tony Ourseler at Metro Pictures
reviewed by Annette Isham

In his latest show, Cell Phones Diagrams Cigarettes Searches and Scratch Cards, at Metro Pictures gallery in New York (February 28 through April 11, 2009), Tony Oursler comments passively on socially acceptable addictions. Through a number of projected images and sculptures, Oursler creates a thoughtful and expressive show. When first entering the exhibition the viewer is confronted with a forest-like display of burning cigarettes. Images of cigarettes are projected onto tall white cylinders of varying sizes.

The volume and reality given to the images when projected onto an actual structure is always very surprising. Each cigarette is of a different brand and the viewer can see a detailed picture of burning tobacco, with ashes slowly developing, perching momentarily at the tips of the cigarettes,and then sporadically falling. It is startling to see something that is usually flicked away and disregarded turned into something monumental and self-destructive.

In the next room of the gallery is a hilarious projection of a five-dollar bill. Abe Lincoln licks his lips sensuously and talks nonsensical gibberish. Then there is a series of dollhouse-like structures housing miniature images of people who are also nonsensical and confused. They communicate with each other with both indecipherable language and extreme body movements. Occasionally their images are lost in a bright flash, which we then find out is an explosion that has moved them to a different room in the little house. The last two pieces are large structures with projections of lottery tickets being endlessly scratched and of a cell phone with jumbled audio snippets. This show, while commenting on social addictions and I think confusion, is really doing nothing more than just commenting without lecturing or presenting solutions. Oursler presents the issues but leaves the audience to make their own decisions about the issues. He does this by being incredibly observant but also funny and entertaining.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Papercutting works by HAE YONG KWON (KIM)
reviewed by Yumi Hogan

It’s a shame that the intricate paper cutting works of Hae Yong Kwon are only on display for two weeks. Kwon began paper cutting over 15 years ago with memories of her childhood in Korea. She continues her inspiration with her travels to over 25 countries including many states within the U.S. On display are several series- 3-Dimensional, Silhouette Set, Wall Hangings, Black/White, Marriage, Landscapes and Color.

She uses a variety of tools including X-Acto knives, sheep shears, surgical, embroidery, and cuticle scissors. She mentioned that often times she has to multi-layer her works to create the desired depth effect; there are sometimes that she will affix a different colored background to the white cut paper (especially the white paper doilies) to create the effect.

Kwon has been in several publications as well as has shown in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and Tennessee.

Korea Monitor Art Gallery

7203 Poplar St, Annandale, VA 22003
3/7/09 – 3/20/09

No Ordinary Garden

Solo Show of work by Mina Oka Hanig
reviewed by Jerri Castillo

I’m quite happy I didn’t read the fine print on the card advertising the show. I just looked at the image and decided it was worth checking out. It turned out her paintings were based on a series called Secret Garden in Spring and the titles contained the word blossom.

Spring Thaw I

But, I am still happy. Her work spoke of nature and elements of spring without the words. It seemed to function exactly how she wanted them to which was, ‘like words in a dictionary’ arranged on canvas, ‘like phrases in a book.’ From far away they look like painted slate squares, like they have a weight to them. Up close you are surprised to see that it is just paper, soft and delicate, painted and adhered to canvas. The canvas gives the painting its weight, it acts like the earth, it is a ground but also the ground in the painting sense of the word ‘ground.’ The papers are the figures, signifying plants and other botanical substances in addition to possessing some of their qualities such as delicate and colorful.
In looking at the show I feel like she was able to transfer the words that inspired her series into paintings, leaving the viewer able to forget the words altogether and just look at art.

Exhibition: March 4-29
Foundry Gallery
1314 18th st, NW
Washington, DC 20036