Tuesday, April 3, 2007

By Chance at DCAC

Lauren Rice

By chance, I wandered into the DC Arts Center on a pretty Saturday afternoon that just happened to be the next-to-last afternoon of an exhibition. D.C.A.C., a non-profit gallery focuses on local emerging artists and curators and I felt that the work on view might give me a good idea about the young or under-represented artists in the area. So I stopped putting off the visit and whaddayaknow, by chance, I had the opportunity to see the exhibition entitled By Chance. Naturally.

The idea for the exhibition is pretty fantastic. Inspired by a curatorial experiment by British artist Tacita Dean, the emerging curator of By Chance, Lisa McCarty, picked three artists whose work deals with chance. Next, each artist chosen by McCarty picked an additional artist unknown to the curator to join the exhibition. Therefore, the entire show itself turns into a painting problem. For example, artists choose to work with specific elements (medias), however what is made with them, well, a good portion of the outcome relies severely on, yep, you got it, chance. Furthermore, one conclusion in art making often determines the next question. It is too bad that the gallery space is so tiny—it would have been very interesting for this chain (or chance?) reaction to continue for a while longer. (I have to add that although small, the gallery has a great atmosphere. It’s funky and interesting, not pretentious at all.)

Anyhow, the work of six artists was on view at DCAC. And as it was not explained in the exhibition brochure, each artist’s use of chance occupied my mind as I toured the exhibition. The first work that caught my eye was the work of Thomas M. Lowry. Overall, his works were the ones I was most drawn to in the show. However, they felt very familiar, as if I had seen them before. And I don’t think I have actually seen his work before. However, despite my ignorance, his awkward drawings on paper and canvas had a Where the Wild Things Art feel that initially drew my interest. Lowry’s drawings seemed to involve chance because he was inspired to draw whatever was around him. A collage of 12 small drawings near the end of the exhibition (I loved how his drawings were either taped or tacked to the wall. Refreshing!) entitled Drawings from the Studio Floor was made up of cartoons, sketches and drawings of things around him such as a work called Things on My Desk that consisted of tiny juxtaposed renderings of objects currently occupying space on the artist’s desk. Lowry’s works gives the sensation that the artist is a collector, of things and information, and all of these things inform his work.

Printmaker Michael Mateson’s circles of luminous illumination on black grounds also intrigued me. I know nearly nothing about digital printmaking, however, I gathered that the chance element in his work had something to do with the printing process. (Duh.) Mateson’s prints were really beautiful, actually. They possessed both a fragility and awkwardness that transcended the viewer’s curious wonderings of what the source of the lights could be.

I also particularly liked one sculpture by LaRinda Meinburg. My first thought, though. was what is this made out of? The three small sculptures on a pedestal appeared heavy, as if made of stone or glass. In fact, these works were made of plastic water bottles. What a way to recycle! Again, I assumed that the work was created by accident somehow, that the artist did not have a specific intention in mind and let the material choose its own form.

Jym Davis’ video, too, held my attention for longer than I anticipated (I have video art ADD). The work was made up of two segments entitled White Space and In-Flux. Both sections involved a full screen of a face (perhaps the artist’s face?) and seemed to deal with the chance of the montage. Ghosts of images often appeared in the work and the face constantly disappeared or reappeared as pattern. It was a progression of images and I could only presume that connection of the images was developed by chance.

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