By Patty Rhea
Curator, Rockford Art Museum
If you haven’t had a chance to drive down the recently-opened block of North Main Street in downtown Rockford, time is of the essence…wait no longer.
Thirty-three years…this is certainly something to celebrate! The much-anticipated opening of the pedestrian walkway is a bit like the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare: Perseverance triumphs, although it can take a while.
Take in a bit of local culture and stop to savor Kortman Gallery’s popular exhibit So What?, celebrating new work by local artist R. Scott Long, as it heads into its final weekend (on display through March 13).
Rockford resident Scott Long’s innate skill as a draftsman is evident in this whimsical exhibition of drawings. The show is composed of more than 60 works in varying scale, including diminutive pieces that resemble intimate greeting cards. Uniquely, the artist uses vintage sewing machines to render the works in thread, a process Long developed over a two-year span. Thread is used to shade the form, much like charcoal is used in a traditional drawing. Many of the drawings are then sealed in thin layers of translucent wax, imparting a dreamlike quality to the work.
For many years, Long has been known for his work as a sculptor. He has also worked in tandem with bead artist Betsy Youngquist, bringing life and movement to her animal forms with his preparatory carving and detailed intricacies. Recently, he has experimented with casting glass, adding elements that further narrate and embellish his and Youngquist’s artistic collaborations. His fascination with this medium is also apparent in this show at Kortman Gallery. Bits of cast glass, some resembling translucent sea coral, are beautifully incorporated in a selection of new pieces.
The artist understands the beauty of minimally-conceived compositions. Less is certainly more for Scott Long. Negative space is as critical as positive space. Long’s use of line, often meandering, is playful, humorous and just plain fun. A keen interest in nature is evident in the subject matter presented…animals of every shape and size spring forth…birds, bears and frogs come to life in these inspired creations. Price range for the work varies with the size; many are quite affordable and available for less than $100. Hard to beat for original art!
R. Scott Long’s So What? exhibit runs through Saturday, March 13. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Kortman Gallery is upstairs at J.R. Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St., downtown Rockford. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (815) 968-0123 or log on to www.jrkortman.com.
Contact RAM Curator Patty Rhea at email@example.com.
From the Mar. 10-16, 2010 issue