Friday, October 22, 2010

Looking at Art in Virginia

I've missed a lot of art shows lately. Between working on the house, working on a potential new art space, and trying to fit in some studio time, I haven't been paying very good attention to exhibition dates. So, today I set off for points-across-the-river to see the new Artisphere venue and the Fall 2010 Solos at the Arlington Arts Center.

The Artisphere was beautiful inside: slick, clean surfaces, windows everywhere, and so many spaces, all nicely furnished with design-y pieces that made me want to lounge around with a book and a tea. A non-functioning snack bar? A theater? A ballroom? Office-y hallways stretching away into space? It was a little confusing since so many of these spaces (sooo many spaces) didn't have anything going on in them. The art gallery areas are tucked away upstairs with no signage pointing the way, so I had to hunt for them. The current show, Skateboarding Side Effects, is curated by Cynthia Connolly and is on view until November 28. I was transfixed by Tim Bearse's suspended dome sculpture blizzard. (Check it out here on slide 6 of his VCU portfolio.) This sculpture made me think back to the Dan Graham show that made it around to a few museums last year, with the tension it points to between beautiful, soaring object/space and possibly deviant behavior. I like those poetics.

The Arlington Arts Center is looking good as well, with nice new hardwoods in the main floor galleries. The current group of solo shows (up til November 7) use the space really well too, so that each artist's work seems cohesive and well organized. I especially liked the spare use of the lobby area, and even more so the art in it. I found Matt King's work transfixing in a way I can't quite articulate.... I guess I like the juxtaposition of the machined hard edges and polished surfaces with the crafty, glue-y handmade bits. (image is King's Desk Jockey, from his website.)

I also really appreciated John Henry Blatter's installation/sound work. It gave me that same feeling I sometimes get at parties or bars, straining to zone in on one person's voice as they talk to me, losing it in the all the other voices and stories around me, feeling overwhelmed by and cut off from my senses at the same time. The installation of the work here, a double wall of speakers, really enhances this feeling, because the sound is in my space and I have to physically interact with it. I like these poetics too.

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