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Posts tagged chad michael cox

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.

Transparent, or not?

Transparencies, Des Moines Art Center

February 22 — May 22, 2013


Above: Convertible Series, Group 10 | Monir Farmanfarmaian

Review by Chad Michael Cox

The Des Moines Art Center currently displays an exhibit entitled Transparencies. My wife had mentioned her interest in viewing this exhibit a month prior to the opening, so the Cox family eagerly entered the solemn gallery on a Saturday afternoon. Well, mostly it was my two boys who eagerly run into every building, but I understand my role as their father. It falls to me to rule with a firm hand, so I quickly subdued them with firm sounding words like, “get”, “don’t”, “if I ever”, “that’s enough”, and my favorite, “stop or I’ll tell your mother.”

The irony of this exhibit is in the name itself. Nothing on display can be classified as being transparent. Indeed, there are mirrors, stained-glass creations, and a dark room with a multi-media piece. That is my favorite as it relates to the term: transparent. In the dark room we discovered a series of glass shards that are driven into a large piece of plexi-glass. (Think Color-Brite from the 1980’s.) The shards form the image of a large, crystal chandelier. It should have been the most “transparent” of any of the pieces. Instead, the artist has placed the work in a dark room and uses a projector to add ambience. The projected image creates the illusion of a dust-coated chandelier gently cleansed by droplets of rain seeping through a hole in the roof which eventually gives way, resulting in a more thorough and robust cleansing. It is a moving work of art, but it is not transparent.

I am a huge fan of art exhibits which produce both internal and external dialogue, and I left the Art Center thankful for contemplations. What was the curator attempting to stimulate within the viewer? What was being revealed? I then realized that the transparent object was not the artwork but rather the viewer. Each piece revealed something new about me. The handheld mirrors for example, the first piece on display, with faces from the past still reflected in them, caused me to wonder what image I will leave behind. A reflective mosaic scattered my reflection in a thousand directions. But the black glass, beautifully arranged to resemble large drops of water, reflected nothing. I was forced to gaze upon the darkness within; my soul captured like smoke in a bottle.

imageAbove: Smoke Art in Bottles by Jim Dingilian

Into the opening of NEW WORK at Olson Larsen

September 7, 2012 – 6:34PM

Art Beacon contributor, Chad Michael Cox, enters Olson-Larsen Galleries for the opening of New Work featuring artists Michael Johnson, Mary Merkel-Hess, and Dan Mason. (On display through October 6th.)

Observation #1: Not a single person in the gallery is actually looking at the artwork.

CMC and his daughter fight through the middle of the room where thirteen people stand with drinks in hand discussing the finer things in life, perhaps they mention the artwork. CMC and daughter enjoy the wide-open spaces surrounding each of the Michael Johnson photographs. This is safe art. The kind that sells and keeps a gallery in business, but it obviously doesn’t inspire anyone in the room to contemplate deeper meaning. The viewers sip their wine and pass cheese cuttings between pierced lips.

Mary Merkel-Hess’s BOWER Gampi, paper board, hand printed paper 17 x 10 x 10

Observation next: Bower by Mary Merkel-Hess resembles a female breast.

Observation by daughter: Enfolded by same artist is “cool!”

Mary Merkel-Hess's ENFOLDED, Paper, paper cord, acrylic paint, 7 x 18 x 11

CMC and daughter both agree this is pretty impressive work as they realize the “grass” effect is achieved by individually rolling strips of paper before combining them to create artwork that begs to be touched – or felt up, depending on the work. And yet, no one in the gallery is paying any attention. No one is being verbally accosted for daring to feel the art before them. They aren’t interested. The viewers, avoiding all artistic engagement, are much more adept at conversation this night.

Observation as revelation: Artist Dan Mason is boycotting all the rules.

Detail of Dan Mason's WILLIAMSBURG III, Oil on linen, 44 x 44

CMC remarks to daughter that every square in Mason’s work fades at the edges. Mason apparently failed geometry class. 90 Degree angles are merely suggested. There are no hard lines taken, no strong stance. Typically rigid cityscapes offer a soothing embrace. Gone is the concrete jungle. In its place, Mason has propped up a series of sponges.

Observation final: Who gives a damn?

The city of Des Moines longs to be a thriving art community. We boast about our annual Art Festival, and (with good reason) we take pride in our ArtCenter. We have world-famous sculptors displayed in our parks. For what? So we can enjoy polite conversation over wine and cheese? So we can engage in dialogue with the artist rather than dive deeper into their work? Then why bother with the art – why not attend a wine tasting, instead?

September 7, 2012 – 6:58PM

CMC and daughter leave Olson-Larsen Galleries. They walk hand-in-hand down the Valley Junction sidewalk discussing the art they have just seen. What was your favorite piece? Daughter responds, “I liked the paper ones.” They’ve inspired her to go home and try to make one of her own.

Observation reality: I wonder if anyone will notice.