Contemporary Art

Art Trolling at The MAC (part 1)

'Call and Response,' 2011. Collaborative installation detail.
‘Call and Response,’ 2011. Collaborative installation detail.

Beasts and Bunnies in the main galleries. I couldn’t help but start my visit backwards and clockwise. The suggested path was to start in the large gallery and work my way around counter clockwise. But with all the tick-tocks, whirling, shadows, and landscape features, the collaborative installation in the square gallery was begging me to wander through it first before moving on to the larger gallery. This installation is an indoor winter wonderland, but with spots of bright yellow, and the sound of creature activity, I could feel that spring was being promised. Since it’s impossible for me to capture the complete experience with photos and words, I strongly suggest you visit the show physically at The MAC. But first, read on. I have more to offer about this show.

(above) 'Call and Response,' 2011. Collaborative installation detail.
(above) ‘Call and Response,’ 2011. Collaborative installation detail.

The artists’ statement. Call and Response is a collaborative investigation of time and its accumulated effects. Like the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, it started with an action and continued with subsequent reactions. First proposed by Frances Bagley; Altman, Bagley, Eberle, and Meehan collaborated by layering the different personalities within their work as well as the formal sensibilities of each artist until they defined the gallery space. In short it was an experiment about experimentation.

The result is an investigation of crossed paths that uses an extremely minimal stage-like setting–cinematic or theatrical in its scope. It brings to mind the setting of Lars Von Treir’s Dogville, the loneliness of the play A Glass Menagerie, the mood of a Grimm’s fairytale, or the allegory of an old Dutch still life. Call and Response creates a visual vocabulary of symbols that we can recognize but don’t necessarily or immediately understand. Filled with the wings of bats, butterflies, and songbirds, it suggests a desire for flight. The need to move forward and continue on is seen in the motion of inanimate objects whose repetitive movements mimic the unending circle of life. The installation suggests an open narrative layered with sounds, objects, and shadows that hint at life lived and how time goes on in our absence.

(above) 'Call and Response,' 2011. Another detail from the collaborative installation.
(above) ‘Call and Response,’ 2011. Another detail from the collaborative installation.
(above) Margaret Meehan, 'Pelt,' 2010. Mixed media, faux fur, prosthetic teeth, 30 x 49 x 50 inches
(above) Margaret Meehan, ‘Pelt,’ 2010. Mixed media, faux fur, prosthetic teeth, 30 x 49 x 50 inches

The large gallery. The path through the square gallery’s collaborative installation leads into the larger gallery where a perplexing furry blob (Margaret Meehan’s Pelt) intruded causing me to rethink my route. After skirting around it and becoming somewhat comfortable with its presence, I started my clockwise circuit around the room. Starting off with Celia Eberle’s fuzzy creatures done in pastels; then onto Frances Bagley’s large scaled Fury with its disturbing blinking eyes; then stepping over to Helen Altman’s Goldfish tank and on over to her two blanket pieces. That takes you half way around the room. All the artwork is either grouped by artist and/or scale and materials. The third wall contained mostly smaller sculptural works of art. And the last wall of my clockwise tour had Eberle’s Transbunny and two pieces created by Margaret Meehan. Besides Altman’s Goldfish and Meehan’s Pelt, the floor space contained two sculptures by Bagley. The most imposing one being her Zebra.

The following photos are done in the same order as my clockwise trip. Please note: I did not photograph all the works of art. Except for one, the pieces shown in my previous post will not be shown again.

(above) Celia Eberle, 'Trouble,' 2010. Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches
(above) Celia Eberle, ‘Trouble,’ 2010. Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches
(above) Celia Eberle, 'Thirsty,' 2010. Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches
(above) Celia Eberle, ‘Thirsty,’ 2010. Pastel on paper, 16 x 20 inches
(above) Frances Bagley, 'Fury,' 2010. Digital print, video and dvd players, 73 x 53 x 5 inches
(above) Frances Bagley, ‘Fury,’ 2010. Digital print, video and dvd players, 73 x 53 x 5 inches
(above) Helen Altman, 'Goldfish,' 2009. Cast plastic, epoxy, lead weights, monofilament line, 45 gallon aquarium and stand, and miscellaneous elements. Side view detail. 57 x 37 x 13 inches
(above) Helen Altman, ‘Goldfish,’ 2009. Cast plastic, epoxy, lead weights, monofilament line, 45 gallon aquarium and stand, and miscellaneous elements. Side view detail. 57 x 37 x 13 inches
(above) Helen Altman, 'Dog's Kitty,' 2005. Found object on blanket with string, 30 x 31 x 2.5 inches
(above) Helen Altman, ‘Dog’s Kitty,’ 2005. Found object on blanket with string, 30 x 31 x 2.5 inches
(above) Helen Altman, 'The Magician's Assistant,' 2009. Thermal transfer on quilted fabric, 75 x 95 inches
(above) Helen Altman, ‘The Magician’s Assistant,’ 2009. Thermal transfer on quilted fabric, 75 x 95 inches
(above) Frances Bagley, 'Monkey Face,' 2010. Polyurethane foam and fabric, 11 x 16 x 5 inches
(above) Frances Bagley, ‘Monkey Face,’ 2010. Polyurethane foam and fabric, 11 x 16 x 5 inches
(above) Helen Altman, 'Anchovy Skull,' 2009. Dried anchovies, wire, and glue, 7 x 8 x 5 inches
(above) Helen Altman, ‘Anchovy Skull,’ 2009. Dried anchovies, wire, and glue, 7 x 8 x 5 inches
(above) Celia Eberle, 'Petrified Forest' (one of three pieces), 2008. Bone, coral, and jet, 5 x 5 x 4.25 inches
(above) Celia Eberle, ‘Petrified Forest’ (one of three pieces), 2008. Bone, coral, and jet, 5 x 5 x 4.25 inches
(above) Margaret Meehan, 'Molly,' 2010. Aluminum print, paint, glass glitter, 48 x 33 x 3 inches
(above) Margaret Meehan, ‘Molly,’ 2010. Aluminum print, paint, glass glitter, 48 x 33 x 3 inches

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