Rattle & Hummmm is about the visual poetry that can be found in Home Depot, the dump and online stores. The six artists in this exhibition are process oriented in diverse ways and most of them incorporate humble, mass produced industrial materials in their artworks. The resulting sculptures, video, paintings and installations are joyful on the surface but altogether, through a visible explorative process and usage of materials, each of these artworks underlies in various degrees a response to our zeitgeist.
Chris Kaczmarek’s whimsical kinetic solar-powered sculptures reveal the artist’s lasting interest in solar energy and the environment. “The techno geek in me loves working with the engineering challenge of how to use a miniscule amount of energy to make something happen,” he says. Located at the center of the gallery, his large electro-mechanical contraptions seem to have a purposeful inevitability but absurdly all they do is emit an occasional sound or a slight movement. Kaczmarek views each of his “Solar Symphony” installations as specific to the space they are in. At ODETTA he decided to connect the sculpture with the building’s architecture by utilizing pedestals in order to accentuate strong horizontals and verticals. In addition, the ample natural sunlight that the gallery gets enables this solar powered artwork to reflect the changing intensity of sunlight throughout the day.
In his minimalistic video cycle “Midnights”, Matt Frieburghaus also draws upon nature, specifically the subtle changes in light, movement or sound that reveal over time and force both artist and viewer to notice the moment. Taken on several midnights in northern Iceland, the abstracted images are based on a single horizontal composition of slowly changing color combination, which draws both on the actual landscape and on the artist’s memory of the dominant colors on each of those nights. “Rarely do I conceive of an idea before I record video or sound. It usually comes much later as a reaction to my recordings or memory of the space,” Frieburghaus says. “Midnights” is meditative, temporal and emits loaded silence.
Unlike Frieburghaus’ videos which lead us to reflect on a given moment, Steven Charles’ complex, dense and vibrant paintings form a color cacophony comprised of layered and intricate paint, evoking a sense of a nonlinear time and speed. Utilizing tape and acrylics, Charles paints automatically with no plan, “each painting is an opportunity to surprise myself; I’m biased by what I like (history) and liberated through risk (gesture). I’m at my best when I don’t know what I’m doing,” he says.
In her sprawling jewel-like large-scale paper construction Nancy Baker shares a similarly intuitive approach. “I like to re-purpose components over and over, change them by adding new pieces, ripping them up, turning them upside down,” she says. Baker bases her abstracted visual content on a vast library of digital imagery, consisting mostly of machine parts and natural forms such as rock formations and precious gems. Repetition and material play big roles in her work. Glitter, paint, modeling paste, gold leaf and sometimes text are integrated into delicate and layered paper constructions made of digitally printed, hand and laser cut geometric patterns. On the one hand the geometric patterns evoke a desire for an orderly system and on the other hand the material ephemerality suggests an undercurrent sentiment of impermanence.
The Flat File featured artists Suzan Shutan and Linda Herritt show their work at the back room.
Suzan Shutan’s site specific installation spreads over the wall and in addition also displays in several drawers that viewers are encouraged to open and discover on their own. In her material-oriented process Shutan transforms pieces of packaging material, cardboard and plastic molds into lively and colorful clusters of sculptural forms. Also created especially for this show, Linda Herritt’s flat file drawers reveal text-based drawings which juxtapose visual and material presence with the sounds and mental pictures the text evokes. The text lists lipstick or commercial paint color names such as Cyber Candy, Peach Cloud, and Pale Moon, but the reading process is interrupted by illusionistic devices which break through the surface.
Ellen Hackl Fagan, an artist, gallerist and show curator says that Rattle & Hummmmm is about the innovative actions that occur as artists explore their hand and voice. “Research, experimentation, blind leaps of faith, and license to play create a sort of a dance, allowing the materials to speak, and then slowing down to listen deeply,” she says. It is precisely this sense of exploration that tie the diverse artworks in this show into a playful and elegant dance.
Main Gallery: features works by Nancy Baker, Steven Charles, Matt Frieburghaus, Chris Kaczmarek
Flat File featured artists: Suzan Shutan and Linda Herritt
Writing by Etty Yaniv
Photo Courtesy of Odetta gallery unless otherwise indicated.