‘Home’ exhibition showcased Arkansas artists, present and past

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 127 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — A wispy white rope ladder swayed haphazardly out a window, dangling into the abyss. Unable to see the escapee, the little white house seemed sturdy and serene in the face of it all.

The house was a piece made of corrugated fiberboard and string from Venetian blinds by Peter Goff, one of several artists whose works were on display in a group exhibition entitled Home at the University of Arkansas’ Anne Kittrell Art Gallery. A recent reception to close the exhibition drew more than any other event previous, partly because the gallery’s donors, the Kittrells, attended.

The gallery partnered with sUgAR Projects for the exhibition, with works from nine artists who have lived in Arkansas at some point in their lives.

“Normally people kind of trickle in to these exhibits,” said Lana Hackler, University programs art gallery coordinator. “But tonight a lot came at the beginning and stayed.”

“The artists only had a month to put together pieces,” said Kat Wilson, director of sUgAR Projects, who hand-picked the artists.

“I felt like the subject would be a natural theme for them,” she said, explaining that it would be an easily-flowing project that could create eye-catching pieces about the history, geography and story of Arkansas.

Two of Wilson’s photographs were featured in the exhibit: “Pink house” and “Young artist on Briarwood St.” Each featured one lady in its setting. “Pink house” depicted a mother in a kitchen with a baby on her hip and another child sprinting across the room, dodging the personal items that tell the story of her home life: the flavored syrups she makes and packages for coffeehouses, the cookbooks and cooking pans, handwriting scrawled across a notebook, baby shoes and building blocks. “Young artist on Briarwood St.” is a snapshot of a very symmetrical, very organized art studio in which each space seems to be covered in something the subject has made: paintings, clothing and more.

“I wanted these photos to be new iconography,” Wilson said. “It’s my contemporary version of it, except that we’re not controlling which objects they choose [to feature in the photo with them]."

Her main goal in the photos was to capture the true personality of the subject.

Michael Davis Gutierrez created a stone piece representing a creek bed with a chair on one side and a tree on the other.
“I grew up in central Arkansas and we spent a lot of time at a creek bed, playing down there,” he said. “I wanted this piece to have that element [of separation], the feeling that you can’t go back once you cross.”

Gutierrez was experimenting with a new tool when he sculpted the piece, which has fine and delicate ridges for the ripples of the creek. “I like for people to be able to see the history of the piece, how it was made,” he said, explaining that art is best when left with a few quirks or rough edges. The chair and tree on the stone piece, entitled “Through One Side,” are so small that it takes a moment for most observers to notice them.

Another unique piece was an oil painting of a crumpled white plastic Walmart bag, “Live Better,” created by Kevin Arnold, an adjunct faculty member in the art department at the University of Arkansas and art columnist at The City Wire.

A brilliantly neon pink frame captured the words “No place like home” within an outline of the state of Arkansas. The bold embodiment of the home state in red was created by Erin Lorenzen, whose work has been showcased in galleries and museums throughout the United States.

Ginny Sims’ exhibit was a series of four plates with a character painted in the middle of each, including an owl on the piece entitled “Richard Batterham”; portrait of a girl on “Agnes Varda”; portrait of a man with his arms crossed over his chest on “Jean Cocteau”; and a winged lion with a paw poised on a book on “Gordon Menzies.” Sims said she likes to look for ways to tie meaning into the objects in our homes by expressing their stories

A piece entitled “Excerpts from Tales of Ordinary Madness and Unnecessary Baggage,” created by Chadd Wilson, had the look of a fusion of wind chimes and graffiti. Wilson is an Arkansas alumnus who has since had his artwork exhibited internationally. The three panels of Excerpts read “Not,” “the way things work out,” “you are here,” and extended to a piece lying on the floor — shattered columns of what might have been chimes.

Artist David Carpenter showcased his model entitled “Perspective,” which brought to mind images of icebergs or clouds — a half-white, half-black piece that seemed smooth on top and rough on the underside. Observers could see a variety of shapes and images upon circling the piece, which was held up as if it were floating through the gallery.