The divergent views of Deni Upshaw, Joe Church and Mark Bond are featured in a three-person show at Kortmans Center for Design, 107 N. Main St. Distant and intimate landscapes, as well as the landscape of the human figure, pull together a show that applies creative materials to even more inventive techniques.
Joe Church, his paintings named after the streets and roads of his environment, paints isolated trees that seem to speak to the artist as well as the viewer. His scalloped and painterly marks act like the wind about to strip his trees bare. Charles Burchfield, a mid-20th century watercolorist who is just now becoming recognized, used similar marks to denote the sounds of the forest creatures. Like Burchfield, Church may be hearing the roar of the wind held in check only by the solidity of the land around them. That these marks also appear in his abstract painting, Red and Tan, makes one realize they are the foundation of Joe Churchs personal, visual vocabulary.
Deni Upshaw creates natural surfaces with found objects and subtle coloration out of our most ubiquitous of materials concrete. In Leaves and Sea Glass, she imprints heavily-veined leaves in the interior of a bowl-like form while the outer surface seems viciously scored. Embedded in the edge of the piece are shards of glass. Both threatening and viscerally appealing to the viewer, this is a piece one cant help but examine and find its edges comfortably smoothed by years in the ocean.
Like most of Upshaws work, a grapevine bench in pearly green, with deeply recessed grapes, is both functional and too fascinating to actually use. An obsessive gardener, her art embodies her passion that, in turn, enriches our outdoor spaces.
Mark Bonds photographs appear to examine the human body as a landscape. Big Foot is an expansive grid of photos mounted on curved, fabric surface supported by fiberglass tent poles. This surface feels like a drive through Illinois farms and fields, but it is a human landscape. Tremendously foreshortened, a huge foot dominates the foreground, yet the rest of the figure, in all of its many parts, remains in focus.
Influenced by Doug and Mike Starns early work, Bond uses multiple images with an irreverence for presentation. Whether stitched, nailed, or hung from threads, Bonds art pushes the boundaries of conventional photography.
Jasper Johns once wrote in a poem Take something! Do something with it! And then do something else with it. Looking at these three bodies of work, one can gain an understanding of Jasper Johns concept. Each artist works in a series. And each piece delves deeper into their psyches, what they wish to say about their topics, and their creative use of materials.
This exhibition remains on display at Kortmans Center for Design until April 13, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.