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Grand View Universities' Faculty Free-For-All

Faculty Show 2012, Grand View's Rasmussen Center, The Prairie Meadows Gallery 

November 19 2012 - January 11, 2013

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Detail of Josh Ryther’s “Private Eyes.” Photo Rachel Buse.

Review by Jon

January 8, 2013

The current exhibition at the Rasmussen Center on Grand View’s campus is a scattered mix of current work by the Grand View faculty. Many major Universities host an art faculty show on a yearly basis as a way of promoting the program and the “research” being done by their teachers. By definition, these shows tend to display an array of work that run the gamut of media, from metal smithing to interactive design. Grand View touts a very strong Art and Design program for its relatively small size and much of its success can be seen in the strong work exhibited by graduates who have come out of the program. Recent Exhibition successes by past students such as Jeremiah Elbel and Jolynn Reigeluth have served to strengthen the art scene in Des Moines and beyond.

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Detail from Aaron Tinder’s, “I have no memory of learning any of these things." Photo Jon Pearson.

In this work by drawing and painting professor Aaron Tinder we see a tight, grid-based painting with a simulacrum of varying perspectives. The color theory in this piece is strong and balanced, and the tied ropes and ribbons serve to lead the eye through the composition and bring some excitement to an otherwise meticulous, structured work. The use of shadow cast by the ropes and ribbons allude to a depth of field which is only implied by the lines and shapes of the rest of the piece. 

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Detail from Mary Jones’, "Discomfiture." Photo Jon Pearson.

Bendy legs and giant-like stature, along with uncomfortably crossed arms and a garish grin lend an air of discomfort to the main character of this collage by Mary Jones. The subject matter, as far as I can ascertain, has something to do with dislocation or relocation from an urban setting to more suburban or rural environs. The figure is flanked by two smaller figures, potentially children. The space inhabited by blue text seems to contain some jargon pertaining to the sale or purchase of a home, but is left relatively vague, as many of the lines are cut of in mid-sentence. Many of the structures in the foreground seem to resemble more urban dwellings, while the structures deeper in the background look like single stand-alone houses. The addition of disembodied heads with hats may resemble the bureaucratic intricacies of relocation. Overall, the piece is balanced in composition and color and has much detail to keep the eyes and mind engaged. Jones’ other work in the show is also very strong and rewards a long look (read what they say).

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Detail from Larrison Seidle’s "Untitled (from the new ether series)" Photo Jon Pearson.

This image from Larrison Seidle’s "New Ether,” series seems to depict a dream scape in which two figures are walking across a vast expanse. The viewer’s eye is brought into the landscape by winding path-like color trails. The piece suggests a departure, or a flight, both because the figures seem to be moving away from building structures in the lower right corner, and because one of the figures seems to be carrying baggage. The piece in its use of color and space is very inviting, and the small size (I would guess about 6"by 6") availed a sense of intimacy between viewer and subject.

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Installation view of Josh Ryther’s “Private Eyes.” Photo Jon Pearson.

“Private Eyes” is one of the more striking pieces in the show. The piece commands a portion of floorspace and is composed of the same image of a face crumpled and formed into mask-like forms. I was impressed by the piece’s activation of an otherwise “dead” area of floor and its ability to heighten the experience of viewing the work on the walls. The images of the face are all directed outwards so that any angle you are viewing the piece from results in confrontation. The work evokes consensus and the togetherness, or sameness in the gaze of the multiplied face.

There are many more strong works in the show, and the gallery is hung with deliberation and skill making it a very clean show. The work by graphic design professor James Ewald employs the clear grid-based “Swiss-Style” to stunning effect in his poster design, while Jon Schwestka produced images of kinetic ambiguity. There is a giant, tiered wedding cake with rotating dolls at the base of it, and beautiful images of a “Herd of Brides,” created by Rachel Schwaller.

Detail of the bottom of the giant cake. Created by Rachel Schwaller. Video by Rachel Buse.

All-in-all, the show exhibits the strength of talent amongst the professorship at one of Des Moines’ best art schools, and leads me to believe that more talented and well trained students will continue to emerge from Grand View’s art program.