REVIEW

Personal influences revealed in art exhibit

BY JANE COLLINS
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 9/11/18

The two current Sumter Gallery of Art exhibits offer interesting observations on artistic vision and technique. Though there are many differences in the two shows, there is a common sense of commitment to pieces that reveal personal convictions and …

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REVIEW

Personal influences revealed in art exhibit

Posted

The two current Sumter Gallery of Art exhibits offer interesting observations on artistic vision and technique. Though there are many differences in the two shows, there is a common sense of commitment to pieces that reveal personal convictions and influences.

Learn a new word. "Kenoposia" by Robert O. Keith IV sent me to the dictionary to discover what his title meant. According to one dictionary, it is an "eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place now abandoned and quiet with an emotional aftermath that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty." His artistic statement emphasizes "the beauty and positive impact of light in what others might find ugly or useless." Keith is extremely successful incorporating a sense of light even in the midst of decay and dilapidation.

Most of his paintings use clearly defined brush strokes, an interesting perspective and a cataloguing of things in disrepair. "Gervais St." and "Findley and James 2014" capture clear images of what could be eerie, yet his use of color brings a sense of positivity to the paintings. Comparing his pen-and-ink sketches with his oils further highlights his unique focus of light to bring a sense of impact and intimacy to the paintings and to allow the viewer to "trespass [with him] in an uncomfortable but quiet place." For example, although in "Church and State" Keith uses a limited palette of blue, his placement of yellow adds depth and definition to the abandoned objects. In "South Beltline," the colorful objects on the floor take on energy from the muted light filtering in. His smaller canvases provide an opportunity for the viewer to appreciate his sense of depth by allowing enough distance to see proportions. Yet it is "Bridge Street 2," his large curved and warped canvas in the corner, that seems to resonate his artistic impact: objects are clearly falling apart; there is a definite atmosphere of hyper-empty and abandoned space. The curved contours, however, seem to wrap the viewer into the space while his use of light leads the focus through areas of light and toward the bright outside.

Susan Klein's "Day Person" is tantamount to entering a fairytale of airy lightness. Lavender and peach (her favorite colors) and forces of orange and yellow lead the viewer in a seemingly innocent journey through a variety of interesting objects. Intrigued by symbols that evoke "the human devotional impulse and the arbitrary manner that objects can be consecrated and made sacred," she uses forms to whimsically, but seriously, encourage people to think about values. I admit I came home and assessed objects and colors I have highlighted in my decorating and why they were given prominence. It was an interesting revelation.

She is interested in found objects - the sink pedestal painted lavender, the thrift shop find - a lavender painted shelf that takes on altar-like characteristics because of significance of the objects placed on it - the contrast of the texture of the orange Plexiglas in "Day Artifact" with the rougher shapes placed on it, Etruscan symbols, the concept of Indian road temples (some laden with years of different colored paint), fingers or phalluses, rope-like arcs that suggest rainbows. These may seem like disparate objects. However, they point firmly to her sense of joyous "complex explorations of ambiguous forms." "Pale Journey" could represent the impact of the Statue of Liberty, "Day Objects," an accumulation of plaster, styrofoam, clay, dye and wood, affords a tribute to common objects, and her favorite "Day Requiem" with found objects like plastic basket, brass-legged table and her ceramic forms (all placed on a rug almost like a prayer rug), are reminders of personal priority, connection and collection. Even her paintings like "Day Order," "Day Glare" and the wave-like design of "Day Breath" encourage a sense of happiness and reflection.

Both exhibits highlight artistic visions and techniques and the capacity for art to encourage observation and contemplation. The exhibitions can be viewed during regular gallery hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.