Art Review: Fresh ideas at Young Artist Show

While parents, students and judges may view this exhibition in terms of who has traditional artistic skills, the real joy of this show at the Rockford Art Museum is the display of fresh, young ideas and how they profile contemporary life. And there are many, many points of view and interpretations to absorb and relish here.

Catherine Partch’s “Doorway to my Dreams” is an imaginative graphite drawing with a mix of scale and a dichotomy of interior elements and outside ones. The wind blows and carries ideas away both night and day. Partch’s easy transition between these disparate elements is to be envied and encouraged.

There are many portraits in the exhibition, but none as free and compelling as Jasmyne Hoyer’s self-portrait. Probably created without looking at her paper, Hoyer takes a “walk” with a big fat line delineating the contours and features of her face with loose ease. Her features are somewhat jumbled and condensed, like most of our lives—particularly in the teen-age yeaars.

Artists (and art critics) like to reference the works of other artists. Tying one’s work to the great body of world art introduces new perspectives to past work. Katelynn Dewitt’s “The Form” exquisitely created a “Christo” in reverse. In this temporal piece, we see a wrapped and tied form softly drawn and shaped in charcoal. In the center panel, the string has been untied and the wrapping paper dislodged. We have to wait until the final panel for the conch shell to be totally revealed to us. Christo wraps, Dewitt unwraps.

Matthew Roeling’s contributions are two of the most contemporary works in the show. His “Children Are So Impressionable” connects his art with his life so far. Teachers should take notice. Rows of identical boys and girls sit rigidly in rows listening to a puppet teacher with a Pinocchio nose and actual strings. What is the connection between lying and teaching?

Megan Gelazus’ “Pink Jazz” takes op-art from the ’60s and uses it to explore the Jazz Age. In pink and black, a flapper with beads and a floppy hat dances the Charleston as the linear movement in this painting changes from straight into wiggles.

With a nod to Andy Warhol, Lacey Parks’ “Motif” displays her shapes in a grid with very carefully chosen flat colors. Her circle morphs gradually into a funky flower and back again. Fascinating.

Three small pieces are shallow reliefs carved into what is called Balsa Foam. Each has a tight composition, nice technical skill and is painted with a thoughtful, controlled palette. Becca Schultz’s “Past Life Dreams” combines African-American patterns and art with a portrait of a young man dressed in a contemporary pattern, the ubiquitous plaid, flannel shirt.

“Girls Night Out,” an ink drawing by Kate Spahak, has spirit and content that women of all ages and eras can connect with. High, high heals with open toe-binding toes are kicked off in a pattern of disarray. At Spahak’s age, is she already wondering how she is going to manage in this foot-binding society?

I am so sorry I am running out of space, for there are many, many more pieces I would like to mention. Overall, number of realistic pieces is limited (but I must congratulate Allison Cicero for her skillfully composed drawing of a precarious stack of china) and so are the pure abstractions.

The computer art here is truly impressive, creative and exciting, and the balance of the show uses realistic elements to explore content—ideas about life and art. Wonderful.

The 65th Young Artist Show runs through April 2 in the Rockford Art Museum (first floor). The museum, at 711 N. Main St., is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Phone: 968-2787.

Susan Webb Tregay is a Rockford artist, author and teacher. Her work and résumé can be found at her Web site

From the March 15-21, 2006, issue

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