LOU'S VIEWS: Indianapolis Art Center turns the familiar into new art

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Lou Harry
This week, familiar objects take on new looks and meaning at the Indianapolis Art Center.

There is plenty to like — and plenty to be annoyed by — at the Indianapolis Art Center, which is featuring a trio of related exhibitions through April 19.

All deal in some way with existing or found objects. The most ambitious — and least focused — of the three shows is "Re-Use/Re-Order" which is diminished by being spread through the Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery (basically, the IAC lobby) and the Frank M. Basile Exhibition Hall (basically, the hallway).

The spaces would work if the show focused on a single artist — or single pieces of work from a variety of artists. But with nine artists featured, some with many pieces and others with only a few — some large and some tiny — you are likely to find yourself constantly cross-referencing. You have to skip around, for instance, if you want to see all of Pip Brant's embroidered and dyed found cloth pieces — which I suppose are meant to be wryly funny/sad ("Abu Ghraib, for instance, features a pattern of flowers and oil cans). Same with Jessica Bohus' Acrocat sculptures, which dance on the line between art and discount-table-at-the-Hallmark-Store, and Matthew Friday's been-there oil-on-canvas comments on Reagan, Bush, etc.

More interesting are pieces from Gerald Mead's "30 Square Inches" series of mini-mixed-media works, as well as four from his "Discarded Science" series of modified books. And I kept gravitating back to Pamela DeCoker's untitled works created from acrylic paint (and only acrylic paint).

The two connected solo shows, while less ambitious, proved more complete and satisfying. "Rock covers Paper" features a series of paper flags from Patrick Miceli, whose "Made in China" piece at McCormick Place in Chicago is the ultimate I-Spy game. Longtime IAC visitors might remember his remarkable piece, "Multiples," which was part of the Art Center's "Regional '99" exhibition and featured giant concentric circles of color made entirely from plastic fast-food-premium toys. It's nice to have his work back in town.

Renee Zettle-Sterling also gets a solo showcase with "Artifacts from Self-Making." It includes such whimsical/creepy/ evocative wordplay objects as a pair of scissors with the word "verb" taking the place of part of the blade, a cheese slicer that seems guarded by a row of paper-doll children, and a garlic press that pushes out the word "life." Literalists may come away confused. Others will find the dreamlike objects close enough to reality to be evocative while distant enough to fire the imagination.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.