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Posts tagged Ankeny Art Center

Review by Chad Michael Cox
Artist: Josh Sorrell | Venue: Ankeny Art Center | Exhibit: October 3rd – November 29th 

Josh Sorrell’s “Jolly” (detail)

At first glance, Broken, resembles a painted garage sell; not the kind that leads to an undiscovered Picasso treasure, rather, one held in a back woods area with a detached garage where displayed items sit haphazardly atop unstable folding
tables and rusted out pull wagons–fragile items poured out from a cardboard box by a disgruntled teenager who recently lost their license after an illegal trifecta of drinking, smoking, and speeding. The viewer feels uncomfortable, forced to appraise the value of broken, ceramic objects otherwise rejected by the thrift store:

Jolly depicts a classic Santa figure perfect for holiday displays
except for the massive ho‐ho‐hole where the belly, once filled with “jelly”, now reveals emptiness inside. Useless takes the duck out of the rub‐a‐dub tub, kicks it around the tiled restroom, and gives it a toothbrush to use as a crutch.

Josh Sorrell’s “Hollow” (source)

Hollow–boasting a classic porcelain doll look–offers a mirage of beauty,

contrasting rouge cheeks and internal scars with stunning impact. Indeed, as the viewer rummages through the shattered remains of discarded “junk”, we soon discover a formidable exploration by the artist of personal and cultural identity. Sorrell seems to ask, “What remains of the broken?” And when the viewer first hears this whispered question, what remains is discovered treasure–justification for making one more stop at that shady‐looking garage sale.

Chad Michael Cox is an award winning author and freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications since graduating from the writing program at Emerson College in Boston, MA. He spent his youth at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and now lives in Iowa with his wife and three children. Read more.

Art without a Voice

Janet Hart Heinicke's “Derivatives, Examining Ideas Found in the Natural World” 

Michael Wilson's “The Horreum, ut Sacellum” (The Barn, as a Chapel)

Ankney Art Center

October 3 - November 29, 2012

Heinicke’s “Sunshine Through the Trees by the water hole” (detail)

Review by Chad

October 9, 2012

            The Ankeny art scene can only be described with one word: anemic. Unfortunately, the Ankeny Art Center has done little to change this reality, refusing to take advantage of the documented momentum in the Greater Des Moines Art Scene. For example, instead of aligning themselves with First Fridays, The Ankeny Art Center chose to open their newest exhibit on a Thursday evening, Janet Hart Heinicke – “Derivatives, examining ideas found in the natural world” & Michael Wilson – “The Horreum, ut Sacellum” (The Barn, as a Chapel) on display through November 29, 2012. Because of this, my daughter and I pulled into an empty parking lot on Friday night, discovered a dark building, and were forced to make a second trip on a Saturday morning just to view the exhibit. Umm…thanks for making it easy AAC!

            Considering I started this review by focusing on the venue, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the featured artwork is little more than a technically proficient offering that lacks a unifying voice. The work ranges from beautiful to mundane, but never truly rises above the level of an art class assignment. Heinicke’s work features typical landscapes of rocks, trees, and rivers while Wilson focuses on barn perspectives.

Wilson's Sepulchrum Mortuorum (detail)

            That isn’t to say there is nothing to appreciate in the work presented. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see a piece from Heinicke which I included in a show I currated back in April of this year, The Green Show. Indeed, Heinicke’s use of metallic paint to distinguish dyed shapes is eye-catching. Sunshine Through the Trees by the water hole is particularly impressive because it is hung beside a matching study in graphite. This gave me an opportunity to discuss art technique with my daughter, contrasting the detail of the rocks in graphite with the dyed and outlined form of a suggested stone bed. Art inspiring dialogue is always a great thing, and as a father I appreciate Heinicke’s display.

Wilson's Alligant Annulum (detail)

            Wilson also has a strong showing. His dark oil tones and chosen subject matter make for an easy back room transition. Indeed his work, at times, is stunning. My daughter and I both felt ourselves reaching for the tie ring on the 3D-like Alligant Annulum (Tie Ring). Equally impressive is Sepulchrum Mortuorum (Tomb of the Dead) which recalls the darkened still life work of Raphaelle Peale.

Tribute to twenty plus years of "paint anything, on nearly anything"

Shawn Palek, Ankeny Art Center

June 1-July 26, 2012

Shawn’s Jacket

Review by Chad

June 12, 2012

Shawn Palek’s show at the Ankeny Art Center Main Gallery, on display through July 26th, is a tribute to the artist’s diverse subject matter and exceptional technical proficiency. His family friendly pieces drew a favorable response from every member of my family including my wife and three young children who enjoyed the Spiderman and Dragon pieces, respectively. The show also reveals a promising new direction for the Ankeny Art Center, a venue which has historically preferred safe, conservative exhibits typically featuring watercolors and garden scenes. For too long this venue has remained on the perimeter of the rising art scene in the greater Iowa community, to the point that one of the artists in attendance, a member of Art-A-Holics, a group of complementary local artists on display in the Ankeny Art Center Side Gallery, mentioned it was his first visit to the Art Center. I sincerely hope it will not be his last.

Portraits of Spider-Man, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn now on view at the Ankeny Art Center

The opening reception was well attended. (I was forced to park in the grass.) This should come as no surprise, however. Palek, an Airbrush Instructor at DMACC since 1996, has a resume filled with twenty plus years of magazine publications, art exhibits, and awards. He has demonstrated a propensity for turning his art into a career, willing to “paint anything, on nearly anything” – as proven by the cement truck displaying his work in the parking lot. In addition, he has invested in the community around him through his mentorship of other artists and numerous public art exhibitions, including a large painted sign of Salvador Dali on the lawn of the Ankeny Art Center which he completed in 1 ½ hours the afternoon proceeding the opening. Even on a night tailored to celebrate his work, Palek gave back to those in attendance by offering a miniature (numbered and signed) version of this same Dali painting to every guest in attendance.

Crowd at the opening reception

When I finally found my way through the crowd to congratulate Palek, I also took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. “What do you want me to know about your work?” Palek singled out a shredded Megadeath jean jacket simply labeled Shawn’s Jacket, one of several on display, the others belonging to friends who provided the artist with his first commissioned works. “This is where it all started,” he states as I snap a photo. That isn’t where it ends, though. Palek’s show offers its viewers everything from horror and sci-fi to abstracts and portraits – all of it free of social commentary, so plan to leave your interpretations at the door. This is a straightforward enjoy it for what it is…and just try to paint this well type of show. More impressive than the work, however, is the craftsman behind the airbrush. He is having fun, and we are the beneficiaries!