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

March 2, 2009
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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