September 24, 2019 | By Tony Wong Palms
A New Season
at the Dunedin Fine Art Center
On Display at the
Dunedin Fine Art Center
It was Friday the 13. There was a full harvest moon. Five exhibitions opening simultaneously. Dunedin Fine Art Center (DFAC) kicked off another season of art activities. Super fait accompli.
It began with an artist talk. Curator Catherine Bergman introduced the two visiting artists, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, whose work is part of the Vista exhibition in the Entel Family Gallery, and Holly Wilson whose one-person show is in the Gamble Family Gallery.
Heap of Birds spoke first on his text-based work, explaining meaning of each of the 16 mono prints in various hues of red, installed as one unified statement. Words like ‘Try Care Don’t Insult Their Beauty,’ or ‘Built Three Forts Indian Never Safe’ or ‘Police Offer Violence Their Social Council.’ All 16 reference some aspect of history and culture of the Indian Nations and their intersection with western cultures.
These pieces are part of an ongoing body of work that Heap of Birds has been making and exhibiting around the world, and presenting in many museum collections. The whole body of these text pieces is a narrative distillation of massacre of the Indian Nations and theft of their homeland and resources, as justified by so-called “manifest destiny.”
The other artists in Vista are Anita Otilia Rodriguez, Rafa Tarim, Luis Tapia, Armand Lara and Terrol Dew Johnson with Amanda/Lasch Architects. It would have been fascinating to hear each of them speak. Each of their works — distinctive in style, while telling personal experiences — encapsulated the culture, craft and art-making tradition of their individual heritage.
The word ‘vista’ means an unobstructed view, usually of a landscape from certain vantage points and ‘an extensive mental view, as over a stretch of time or a series of events’ from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Both definitions fit the exhibition Vista.
Holly Wilson spoke of the very visually-magnetic pieces in her solo exhibition. The title, On Turtle’s Back, references the Delaware Nation’s mythology of how its People survived a deluge at the time of creation by climbing onto a turtle’s back until the water receded. These and the Cherokees are part of the artist’s ancestors, and the exhibition tells stories of that lineage and the challenges new generations face in navigating the ever-changing world.
Holly Wilson’s work is heroic in scale and in the stories it tells. One piece titled Bloodline is 26 feet long, with 62 figures walking across sections of a Locust tree trunk cut lengthwise showing growth lines.
Each section represents a generation, all the way to the artist’s own children. Why write another lengthy genealogy book when you can do something like this? Arguably a more fascinating method of storytelling, and to some degree, truer to the greater myth-making tradition.
Another wall-sized piece is A View From Within Under The Skin, on what we see as differences — or what may be the same within all of us. Made from crayons, 24 different colors, melted and reshaped into 288 busts of 12 girls’ heads. A rainbow metaphor.
If associating only through colors, this might be a good segue to the next two exhibitions, Hue + M, and Round the Wheel. As their apt titles describe, both are about colors and more colors — colors as descriptive, colors as aesthetic choices, colors as metaphors, colors just for fun.
Hue + Me, filling both the Meta B. Brown and John & Pat Rossi Galleries, is a juried exhibition for artists playing with color. A profusion of paintings, prints, ceramics, sculptures, collages, jewelry. . . certainly not easy for the juror, Ann Byal Feldshue, but no doubt also fun — choosing 148 pieces, with prize winners in different categories and a best of show.
Round the Wheel, curated by Nathan Beard in the Douglas-Whitley Gallery, is an exhibition of seven regional artists: Carl Abbott, Michael Crabb, Javier Dones, Julie Kanapaux, Jana Millstone, Andrea Dasha Reich and Jill Taffet.
Multiple pieces from each artist enable viewers to delve deeper into areas personal to each. Overall, the exhibition expresses the varieties and complexities of life on an individual as well as a societal level. Just as one goes around the color wheel, encountering infinite gradations in hues and values and intensities, primary, secondary, tertiary, warm and cool, loud and soft, clashing and harmonious.
And while on the subject of colors and fun, Colorific Colorations is on display in the David L. Mason Children’s Art Museum at DFAC, just down the corridor past Hue + Me and Round the Wheel.
This exhibition of children’s works is from DFAC’s Summer Art Academy. It’s no surprise that the works are fun, full of rainbows, color mixing and experimentations as childhood should be. Maybe some will continue on to be artists, or perhaps carry lessons learned in art-making into whatever path each will eventually take, infusing their journey with an aesthetic value.
And finally, in the lobby or the Syd Entel Founders Hall, which is really the beginning as one enters DFAC, an icon from art history, Georgia O’Keeffe.
By Her Hand, shows nine limited edition prints inspired from her book Some Memories of Drawings. Drawings from daily experiences, a canyon walk, a headache, a thought, a kiss, seashells and other things that happened to be around.
Some of the drawings became the basis for her evocative paintings. This is the essence of art-making, an artist with the most basic of materials — pencil and paper, and a clear set of eyes.