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NIK DUDUKOVICTHE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLDTHE BUTCHER - SAVANNAH, GA
Like evidence of an unsolved mystery, the 18 drawings (all ink and acrylic on Mylar, in addition to one copper etching) in Nik Dudukovic’s exhibit, The Greatest Story Never Told, are more “situation” than “story.” Images are related, but not sequential, like a display of artifacts intended to explain a culture’s history. There are simple illustrations, character profiles—Defender I (8”x10”), a whinnying horse in full armor, and Defender II (8”x10”), a tiger on hind-legs, teeth bared and claws spread as if to strike in mortal terror—are rendered in ink and acrylic washes, minimal color. There are full scenes: of children hunting, of giant beasts, either captured or released. The choice images force the viewer to assemble (or deconstruct) any plot among these pieces.
Inarguable about this world: it’s cold. Grey skies stretch across each scene, honing a solemn tone, tense silence. Human figures are dressed in fur-lined coats. Snow drifts cling to the ground. The emotional tone is reinstated by the use of ink washes, the Mylar and restricted use of color.
The Annual Hunt (16”x20”) depicts a pair of young men, each with his own shot gun. A flock of birds fly towards them, overhead. Positioned in the foreground, the lad to the left is half human, mythical—a pair of wings outstretch behind him, but they’re smallish, disproportioned to his body. He cradles his shotgun. His expression is fixed beyond the viewer, introverted, eyes unfocused. Beside him, the other young man aims his gun in malice, the barrel positioned at the winged-boy’s head. But the shooter is set slightly back. Wind draws the boy’s coat forward as he aims, as if he’s part of another atmospheric perspective (not a feather nor fold of fabric is adrift on the first figure). Between the two, on the ground, are a bird, a bug and a tortoise. All of the animals and human figures are monochromatic, drawn topically—the Victorian mansion and cluster of trees of the background, and the yellowed grass of the foreground are under-drawings on a layered cell, pulling them back from focus. Technical execution targets the dramatic irony of this piece: that the hunter is the hunted, that reality, and our perception of reality, are two different things.
Dudukovic, who is a Canadian resident formerly of Belgrade, takes inspiration from “graphics, diagrams, history, deities, evolution, monsters and elaborate narratives. The ideas [for The Greatest Story Never Told] are influenced by these interests and their representations,” Dudukovic says. He plays with different perspectives throughout the exhibit, showcasing The Creator of Worlds (8”x10”), a pair of hands, one red, one black, fingers interlocked, a blue raindrop falling above them, a leafed branch extending below them and The Destroyer of Worlds (8”x10”), one red hand, palm open, with a black snake slithering between figures, one black droplet falling from the wrist. These images could possibly explain the start and end of all the scenes and imagery in between, but explanations vary upon the viewer.
Likewise, there is the Creator of Nature (12”x16”), a silhouette in profile, lips open, a branch extended from the back of the head. The figure faces a red dot; below these drawings, another, of a bare black branch, shopped in two places, highlighted with a bleeding red. The antithesis is the Destroyer of Nature (12”x16”), a portrait of a horned, mythical-man. An image of two figures copulating is tattooed on his chest. Slender, dark-haired and bearded, he bares a slight resemblance to the artist. “I suppose there’s an autobiographical element to all of the images, but none of them are direct self-portraits,” Dudukovic says. “The Destroyer of Nature is an anti-hero. He is not someone I hope to become.”
[Image: “The Annual Hunt,” ink and acrylic on Mylar, 16” x 20”Photo courtesy of The Butcher Gallery ]

NIK DUDUKOVIC
THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD
THE BUTCHER - SAVANNAH, GA

Like evidence of an unsolved mystery, the 18 drawings (all ink and acrylic on Mylar, in addition to one copper etching) in Nik Dudukovic’s exhibit, The Greatest Story Never Told, are more “situation” than “story.” Images are related, but not sequential, like a display of artifacts intended to explain a culture’s history. There are simple illustrations, character profiles—Defender I (8”x10”), a whinnying horse in full armor, and Defender II (8”x10”), a tiger on hind-legs, teeth bared and claws spread as if to strike in mortal terror—are rendered in ink and acrylic washes, minimal color. There are full scenes: of children hunting, of giant beasts, either captured or released. The choice images force the viewer to assemble (or deconstruct) any plot among these pieces.

Inarguable about this world: it’s cold. Grey skies stretch across each scene, honing a solemn tone, tense silence. Human figures are dressed in fur-lined coats. Snow drifts cling to the ground. The emotional tone is reinstated by the use of ink washes, the Mylar and restricted use of color.

The Annual Hunt (16”x20”) depicts a pair of young men, each with his own shot gun. A flock of birds fly towards them, overhead. Positioned in the foreground, the lad to the left is half human, mythical—a pair of wings outstretch behind him, but they’re smallish, disproportioned to his body. He cradles his shotgun. His expression is fixed beyond the viewer, introverted, eyes unfocused. Beside him, the other young man aims his gun in malice, the barrel positioned at the winged-boy’s head. But the shooter is set slightly back. Wind draws the boy’s coat forward as he aims, as if he’s part of another atmospheric perspective (not a feather nor fold of fabric is adrift on the first figure). Between the two, on the ground, are a bird, a bug and a tortoise. All of the animals and human figures are monochromatic, drawn topically—the Victorian mansion and cluster of trees of the background, and the yellowed grass of the foreground are under-drawings on a layered cell, pulling them back from focus. Technical execution targets the dramatic irony of this piece: that the hunter is the hunted, that reality, and our perception of reality, are two different things.

Dudukovic, who is a Canadian resident formerly of Belgrade, takes inspiration from “graphics, diagrams, history, deities, evolution, monsters and elaborate narratives. The ideas [for The Greatest Story Never Told] are influenced by these interests and their representations,” Dudukovic says. He plays with different perspectives throughout the exhibit, showcasing The Creator of Worlds (8”x10”), a pair of hands, one red, one black, fingers interlocked, a blue raindrop falling above them, a leafed branch extending below them and The Destroyer of Worlds (8”x10”), one red hand, palm open, with a black snake slithering between figures, one black droplet falling from the wrist. These images could possibly explain the start and end of all the scenes and imagery in between, but explanations vary upon the viewer.

Likewise, there is the Creator of Nature (12”x16”), a silhouette in profile, lips open, a branch extended from the back of the head. The figure faces a red dot; below these drawings, another, of a bare black branch, shopped in two places, highlighted with a bleeding red. The antithesis is the Destroyer of Nature (12”x16”), a portrait of a horned, mythical-man. An image of two figures copulating is tattooed on his chest. Slender, dark-haired and bearded, he bares a slight resemblance to the artist. “I suppose there’s an autobiographical element to all of the images, but none of them are direct self-portraits,” Dudukovic says. “The Destroyer of Nature is an anti-hero. He is not someone I hope to become.”

[Image: “The Annual Hunt,” ink and acrylic on Mylar, 16” x 20”
Photo courtesy of The Butcher Gallery ]

SIDEWALK ARTS FESTIVAL 2012
FORSYTH PARK

Saturday, April 28th was a bright, warm day, perfect for art out-of-doors. Often the annual Sidewalk Arts Festival is subject to rain; this year dappled sunlight, laced through a veil of Live Oaks, lit the sidewalk squares as SCAD students and alumni rendered their original works before a slow-moving crowd of hundreds. The above images were taken on my midday tour down the Forsyth center line.

In the Studio with Christine Sajecki
Today I spent some time in the studio with Savannah artist Christine Sajecki. She is a Connecticut bred, SCAD alumna who is preparing for her forthcoming solo exhibition at 1704 Lincoln Gallery. American Villages, which is a series of encaustic paintings and works on paper, will open on Friday, May 4.
Using local beeswax from Rincon, damar resin, pigment and heat, Sajecki creates her medium. The paint solidifies after about a minute, demanding a swift, conscious hand. Her panels are thick with layers of paint, scraped down with a razor or built up with a brush, melded together by a torch. The paintings are slick to the touch. I have always been mystified by paint, especially such a process-oriented substance as encaustic or oil. She let me experiment with her medium; the above image is the result of my curious touch.
Nathan “Bob” Jones was around shooting images while I look notes. Check out his photographs here.

In the Studio with Christine Sajecki

Today I spent some time in the studio with Savannah artist Christine Sajecki. She is a Connecticut bred, SCAD alumna who is preparing for her forthcoming solo exhibition at 1704 Lincoln GalleryAmerican Villages, which is a series of encaustic paintings and works on paper, will open on Friday, May 4.

Using local beeswax from Rincon, damar resin, pigment and heat, Sajecki creates her medium. The paint solidifies after about a minute, demanding a swift, conscious hand. Her panels are thick with layers of paint, scraped down with a razor or built up with a brush, melded together by a torch. The paintings are slick to the touch. I have always been mystified by paint, especially such a process-oriented substance as encaustic or oil. She let me experiment with her medium; the above image is the result of my curious touch.

Nathan “Bob” Jones was around shooting images while I look notes. Check out his photographs here.

LEO VILLAREAL
JEPSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS 

Although Leo Villareal designed his original light sculpture as a way-finding devise, the self-titled survey of his work urges the viewer to disconnect from the world and lose oneself in the art. Lights pulse, flicker, fade and revive at ever-changing intervals. Villareal is a forefront artist in the light medium, recognized for his sculpture and site-specific, architectural installations. Inspired by Dan Flavin and James Turrell, Villareal’s work is likewise minimalist in approach. His sculptures are visual, but they are not about imagery. To look is not enough. The viewer must watch the lights metamorphose through spectrums and pattern-like evolutions. As they reinvent themselves, the pieces transform atmospheric perspectives, and the viewer’s internal response.

This is the first major touring museum survey of Villareal’s work. Primarily comprised of LEDs, Villareal also uses incandescent bulbs and strobe lights in his sculpture. He codes simple, custom software for each piece. These algorithms and kinetic lights become trance-inducing beacons. While almost all of the sculptures are simple shapes and abstract motions, one work depicts a concrete image. Flag (2008, LED tubes, custom software and electrical hardware) is as much a statement on the capabilities of light as Jasper John’s flag paintings are about paint. There are 26 tubes aligned in 13 horizontal rows. Momentarily illuminated as an American flag, the lights scintillate and become three flags, flash and become nonobjective jolts of red, white and blue, roving in and out of the original image. Villareal defragments the symbol. The piece reckons with issues of personal identity, beyond politics, reminding the viewer that an icon is a simplified representation of various experiences, with less emphasis on the sum, and more significance on the converging, individual characteristics.

The lights in each of these 17 works (1997-2010) separate and assemble at spontaneous intervals. Isolated in a subdivision of the gallery is Hive (2007, orange LEDs, wood, custom software and electrical hardware), an overhead installation. Clusters of orange LEDs are interspersed on a square suspended from the ceiling, creating a rain of palpable light. Each unit is a black box of 25 bulbs. They dance at different intervals, buzzing and flickering. Villareal exemplifies the title’s theme in both cause and effect: the countless clusters of lights are one kind of hive that creates another. The resulting atmosphere—festive, social—lures viewers beneath it, like the lights on a nightclub dance floor. That the piece feels like something purposed for a social gathering reflects a motif of emergence—a colony of bees, for example, or the transient, counter-cultural event Burning Man, where Villareal first displayed the precursor works that became his identifying artistic expression.

Although repetitive in components, each viewing of this exhibit creates a new experience. Among these works, the viewer is lost and found, lost and found again.

[Leo Villareal is on display at Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center for the Arts through June 3, 2012. 204 W. York Street, Savannah, GA. Telfair.org.]

[Images courtesy of Telfair Museum:
Leo Villareal; Flag, 2008, 75 x 144 x 4 inches, courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York; Photography by James Ewing Photography.
Leo Villareal; Metatron, 2002, (A.P. ed. 2); Plexiglas, incandescent light bulbs, custom software and electrical hardware; 60 x 60 x 6 inches, courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York, Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Leo Villareal; Big Bang, 2008 (A.P. ed. 3), LEDs, aluminum, custom software and electrical hardware; 59 x 59 x 8 inches, courtesy of Connor Contemporary Art, Washington, DC; Photography by James Ewing Photography.]

—Elizabeth Rushing

TRIPLE THREAT: 3 ARTISTS REDEFINING SAVANNAH
MATT HEBERMEHL - MICHAL PORTEN - TROY WANDZEL
FLORIDA MINING GALLERY - JACKSONVILLE, FL

To define a city’s art scene is an uncertain task, especially when the local community is beneath the shadow of an international art school. SCAD brings great talent to Savannah, but the efforts of students and faculty directly reflect the college. Savannah artists not associated with SCAD are most acknowledged for the kitsch they market to tourists: landscapes of Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, an area so uniquely beautiful that artistic reproduction is a ruse.

Readdressing this perspective is a trio of artists: Matt Hebermehl, Michael Porten and Troy Wandzel—three SCAD alumni who have evolved from art students into distinct members of a misrepresented artistic community. In conjunction with curator Cindy Szczecinski of CAS Fine Art, they present three distinct styles of painting in the exhibit, Triple Threat: 3 Artists Redefining Savannah, at Florida Mining Gallery in Jacksonville, FL.

"Jacksonville has a set idea of what Savannah is," says Wandzel, who has exhibited there in the past. "They admire Savannah but they read [art by Savannah artists] as historical looking paintings and maybe impressionist-inspired paintings or marsh scenes, abstractions of landscapes and things like that. We’re just trying to spark something again. We’re forcing a point. We’re showing elements of Savannah that people may not really know."

An emphasis on line relates Hebermehl’s bright abstracts (2011-2012), Porten’s optical art panels (all 2012) and Wandzel’s self-portraits (2011-2012). “Each artist has a creative arsenal that threatens, redefines and constantly questions how art is conceived, created and consumed,” says Hebermehl.

For years, Hebermehl has worked with other artists to elevate Savannah’s art scene, organizing guerilla-style artist exhibitions on the streets of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District during Art Basel, helping publish zines and talking up the scene in national publications. (A 2010 profile in JUXTAPOZ Magazine quotes Hebermehl, “I didn’t want someone else’s scene. I made my own. Now’s the time. Savannah’s the place.” The paragraph lays more emphasis on the community in which he creates than it does his own creations.)

Hebermehl’s work in Triple Threat speaks for him. Long recognized for his icon and pattern based abstractions, Hebermehl’s paintings are reminiscent of street and fine artist David Ellis (who Hebermehl has worked with in the past). In the last few years, Hebermehl has painted with a restricted vocabulary of loops and lines; they are his trademark forms. The new abstract works, all acrylic and spray paint on panel, are a refined advance on his signature patterns. His color palette is hip, young: spray paint neon, candy-colored acrylics and black. In every canvas, the colors have momentum, rampancy; the black loops are painted with a conscious hand.

Many of his works play off others—'Round and 'Round, Slow and Low, and Get Down for the Upstroke are predominantly big black loops filled in or lined with blue, on a background of multicolored swipes. The canvases trace the natural motion of the free hand. Each is playfully gestural.

You Get What You Need is a picture of seven teardrop shapes, some inverted, that repress the fun-seeking pink, orange and blue curving lines of the background. Negative space is minimal. The black shapes in the foreground, built up with gold, dominate with solidity. They do not seem to sit immediately on top of the multicolored swoops but far in front of them, like a gate inhibiting a distant view. Feelings of restriction linger. The direct conflict of this panel: freedom and restriction, orderliness and disorder, coexist with comfortable tension.

Of similar composition is Go Time. One predominant curving line creates six abstract shapes of the same heavy black hand, rimmed in blue and gold. The black form here is relaxed; negative space eases the tension between foreground and background. Pink, yellow and blue spray paint scrolls slip between the larger lines. The title indicates an energy, the sense that something is happening—the forms are unfurling, reshaping. They’re still bound together. It’s an uncertain adventure, but one that feels inevitable. If You Get What You Need is symbolic of the past, then Go Time is of the present: from supposed to redefined, stagnant to kinetic, local to national, the lines in Go Time are evidence: the artist is in transition.

Each of the three artists offers some explorative variation on their aesthetic. Porten’s rigid line work is a stark contrast to Hebermehl’s abstracts. At once static and jolting, the black and white lines of Porten’s op-art panels (all acrylic) reverberate with tension. Intended to trick the eye, the crossover lines flinch; the subjects are elusive. The viewer must squint and examine the works from different angles, coaxing the feline in Ventoux and Veronique, or the baby in Age Spectrum into view. The images appear with an almost 3D-like quality.

Porten choreographs his lines with mathematical precision (a vinyl primer is part of his perfection). These works are outstanding in the context of work by Savannah artists—it’s a challenge to find anyone else in the area who paints anything similar—they exist in the same school as work by Bridget Riley and Tauba Auerbach, the artists who directly inspired him. “My style of painting is to not hide behind a style of painting,” Porten says. “I am always trying to learn new methods of creating work to facilitate new ideas.”

The works here are vastly different than the graphics-accented self portraits for which he is recognized. (In 2010, the #88 issue of New American Paintings (South division) featured Porten’s Symbolic Painting 2 on the cover. The painting is Porten’s self portrait in profile, monochromatic. Surrounding his face are the universal icons for man and woman, in multiple colors; behind Porten’s head, in different colors, are three groupings of curved lines.) Relative to his most recent worksPorten’s self portraits drift into the op-art realm with the red and white Glamour Nosebleed Shot series, but those images are subtle compared to the dizzying panels in Triple Threat.

The new works vary in subject—mostly faces, adult and infant, male and female, human and animal. There is one obvious self portrait. The composition of Me and Me focuses on Porten’s face; his full beard floats beyond the bottom edges of the picture. The lines manipulate the image, skewing his expression. One eyebrow is cocked as if puzzled. Porten’s op art deals directly with form; the repeated use of only black and white lines emphasizes a motif of opposites. Without color, the viewer is forced to focus solely on the subject matter, but the form conflicts this pursuit. Though metaphorically black and white represents the inarguable, these works force the viewer to examine the “gray matter,” or literally, what’s between the lines.

Things are not always what they seem—each of the artists play on this idea in their work. Wandzel’s seemingly obvious self portraiture is not about emotional expression. His repeat self portraits—always, the “looking face,” not angry or emotional—are an exploration of his curiosities. There is an emphasis on what his eye can see.

His lines are individual, relaxed. Curved, loosely crosshatched, his spacing allows the varying colored backgrounds to play a part of the skin he recreates. Three of the self portraits are painted on traditional rectangles in different colors: blue, yellow and clear plexiglass. Self With Line (oil enamel on Plexiglas) is capable of constant change. The clear blackground—the limitless backgrounds this piece can possess—represents the skin’s natural reactions to different elements: in sunlight, in a cold room, when wet. Self With Line, like Like Portrait #1 (yellow background) and Line Portrait #3 (blue background) is the same face, the same expression, but in different circumstances. The backgrounds reinvent the pieces entirely. These self portraits are about the artist’s unsatisfied obsession with painting human skin.

Repetition is how he reinvents himself. Wandzel has painted his own face thousands of times, since he began painting seriously in 2000. Early in his career, Sotheby’s Auction Houses displayed his work in their properties all over the world. In recent years, with the exception of participating in live painting events during community functions, Wandzel hasn’t exhibited. But he is always working. Recently unable to endure the heat of his downtown Savannah studio, Wandzel allowed himself to retreat into his air conditioned apartment but on one condition: he had to keep drawing on his iPhone. The simple touch self portraits evolved into this series of line paintings.

Much of his other work involves the lush, natural brushstrokes that lay the base of Head. Highlights in red, yellow, green and blue are painted along the contour of his features; they look vascular. The line work is sketchy. Head is not rectangular but rather cut around the edges to appear organic and suggest infinite space. This is the picture that unifies his idiosyncrasies: line work, brushwork, self portraiture, issues with color and space.

Wandzel has had trouble with rectangles and squares; he finds these traditional forms to be limiting. “They drive me crazy,” Wandzel says. [“It’s] sort of confining [to an] idea or work where—why you can’t turn a corner, why something can’t flow. Painting in general is so undefined now that anything, something that leans far more sculptural is still considered a painting, in those general terms.”

While each of these artists may exhibit their works successfully in an independent show, the works collective instill the greater purpose of society, locality. Triple Threat culminates in the collaborative piece, 3 Pac (acrylic and spray paint on panel, each 23.5 x 23.5”.) This is the only work where Hebermehl, Porten and Wandzel’s forms are in direct confrontation. 3 Pac is comprised of 25 panels. Porten’s black and white lines sweep across the background and his graphic imagery—a pink hand posed in a “thumbs up” in the top right corner, cartoon clouds and bubbles that float along the bottom right—pop out among the other artists’ details. A Wandzel head floats upward from the right, to the center of the piece, his beard adrift like a jellyfish in water. The panels curved sides interrupt a central portion of his face. Two huge Hebermehl loops, candy pink-yellow-blue, twist at the center, while the spray painted word "sigh." stretches across six panels from the bottom left. Like a neighborhood of different aesthetics, each artist’s hand mingles with complimentary yet distinct presence.

There are smaller bits of each artist intermixed: Hebermehl’s tribal paintings, Porten’s pop imagery and Wandzel’s highlights are so congruent that it seems unnecessary to individualize each artist’s contributions but easier, rather, to accept it as a whole. Should the parts of this piece be separated, the image would hardly survive. 3 Pac symbolizes the power of community, and the artist’s role within it. It is the apex of Triple Threat. It is the example of individuality and unity, how this artistic union represents their city outside of the Savannah demarcation. The blockade formation is a likeness to the urban grid of Savannah’s historic district, the very place they’ve redefined.

[3 Pac photo credit: Laird/ Blacpalm, courtesy of Florida Mining Gallery]

-Elizabeth Rushing

SAVANNAH STOPOVER BAND POSTER EXHIBITION
JEPSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS

The Savannah Stopover Music Festival—which has organized 100+ bands to play around downtown Savannah, March 7-10—kicked off opening night festivities with a merge of art and music at the Jepson Center for the Arts. Stopover summoned local artists to submit original poster designs for the 2012 lineup. More than 40 posters are on display. The exhibit includes an original piece by Savannah Artist Marcus Kenney to commemorate the festival’s opening night with headlining band, Oberhofer (limited edition prints are available.) Posters will hang through March 11.

No Control Festival: Live Painting

On February 18, 2012, Southern Pine Company hosted the No Control festival, an all day, all ages event centered around Savannah’s best indie bands. Not many cultural events take place in this community without a little live painting. Participating artists included Jimmy Butcher, Justin Harris, Adolfo Hernandez, Lamaho Kretzman, Jose Ray and Thomas Wharton, among them.

Katherine Sandoz for Savannah Art Walls’ Rotating Mural Project: Day 1

It’s the coldest day Savannah’s had this winter—temperatures dipped down to the 20’s—but artist Katherine Sandoz set out early to work. In conjunction with public arts organization seeSAW, Sandoz is painting an abstract coastal landscape on the western facade of a building at Habersham & 34th Streets. This is the first of many rotating-artists murals. The Grikitis family graciously lent the unoccupied commercial space for the project.

Originally Sandoz anticipated the project taking a full week; now she doesn’t think so. She has a lot of help. “I’ll have five girls,” Sandoz said—three of her former studio assistants and two current interns will assist her. seeSAW cofounders Matt Hebermehl and James “DrZ” Zdaniewski were also on site today, running errands and laying down paint. “I’ve got the professionals with me,” Sandoz said.

The wall is 100 feet long. With assistance from Sandoz’s husband, it took 20-25 minutes to spray the wall a 9 a.m. shade of sky blue. The artists spent the rest of the day blocking out the underpainting, while gospel music played from a house across the street.

Once complete, the mural will remain for three months.

OBJECTIFIED VISIONS
SHAWN TURNER

Cabinets of curiosities await the viewer at The Butcher gallery on Bay. Constructed from a multitude of natural and artificial elements, these three-dimensional pieces—sculptures, curio cabinets, shadow boxes—are filled with textural intrigue.

Shawn Turner is an artist, surely, but it’s difficult to specify—sculptor seems adequate, almost, except that his materials are so obscure the broad title falls short of summarizing his work. He’s created interiors in miniature, Curio #49 is like a grown man’s doll house: reptile eggshells and wood, maps and straps of leather, the different compartments may be opened and searched. Turner is a craftsman—a talented arranger of forms, capable of evoking beauty and new meaning from ordinary things.

"I kind of built [the pieces in Objectified Visions] on the premise of sacred fetishes—fetish as not a sexual term, but fetish as always a religious object. There’s several different tribal religions and cultures that would carry around these little temples with them so they always had a piece of their god or religion with them all the time and that’s kind of where I started building a lot of these pieces. And,” Turner says, “Sometimes I just put them together because I think they look really cool.”

Turner salvages materials from yard sales and junk shops and his personal collections. “I have people bring me weird stuff, all of the time,” he says.

Inspired by nature, Turner incorporates a lot of natural elements in his pieces. The entrance to Prince of Threads is leaves and roots and knobs of wood. A curved branch juts upward from the center of the box, like a handle. Inside the wooden box, Turner sculpted a crude figure with an open mouth and squinted eyes, the nose and proportions exaggerated. The figure wears a spiral crown, threaded shoulders, beaded necklaces and fibers regalia. A bird perches on his shoulder. Opposite the prince, a multicolored web of fibers hangs from a crooked mannequin finger.

As all the pieces in Objectified Visions, the construction of Prince of Threads is so solid the object seems organic.

"I don’t like when you go to see people’s work and you can actually figure out how it’s put together," Turner says. "I want the mystery to be there. I’m really funny about craftsmanship. [I feel that it is a lost art] because people just kind of slap shit together and I was brought up a little differently." Turner’s grandfather was a master wood turner, his mother a master tailor. He’s been building things since childhood. "There’s a lot of fine handiwork and finishings and there are very few pieces in that show that you’re actually going to see the screw or nail or the adhesive so it all looks like it kind of came together, like it was meant to be a natural object."

Clutchfoot, an assembly of random goods: folded papers, glass eyes taken from mink stoles, tangled threads, rusted nails, mannequin bits, among others, are encased in a wooden crutch. It is the most sculptural piece in the exhibit. The gourd, which Turner grew, dried and carved into a face, looks out at the viewer with docile expression—the up-gazing, mismatched eyes evoke a sense of innocence; a champagne cage is affixed like a pacifier in a baby’s mouth. Framed by the crutch, and anchored by a metal foot, there’s a semblance here of weakness, or the opportunity to gather strength.

His varied use of materials challenges the viewer to revaluate the meaning of an object—is it capable of change, or does the original meaning relay some deeper understanding of the piece?

[“The title, Objectified Visions] was sort of a play on words because of how we objectify things. Looking in the mirror, of course, you then become the objectified vision, hence the giant mirror in the front window,” Turner says. “But a lot of times, the things that become religious icons become objectified, therefore they’re sort of imbued with this sense of power—you know, a crucifix or anything that’s considered a religious item.”

Either as symbolic meaning or visual appeal, the works in Objectified Visions are sure to reveal something new each time you look.

[Objectified Visions by Shawn Turner is on display at The Butcher gallery through January 27. 19 E. Bay Street, Savannah, GA. 912-234-6505. Jimmybutcher.com]

Exhibition Openings: Friday, January 20, 2012

Artist: Emily Quintero
Exhibit: Reverie
When: Now through January 30
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 6-8:00PM
Where: Gallery Espresso, 234 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Painting/ Watercolor
Description: The subject matter—as inventive as fairy tales but vague as dreams—is comprised of transitional figures: at once skeleton and feminine flesh, or human with animal elements. The characters, and Quintero’s handling of her medium, create an enigmatic cast.

Artist: Group
Exhibit: Fresh Prints 2012
When: January 16- February 12
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 6-8:00PM
Where: Foxy Loxy, 1919 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Printmaking
Description: An exhibition of selected works by students in the fine arts program at Savannah State University.
Image Detail: Tune Out, Tae Walker, Woodcut, 2011 


Artist: Adam Gabriel Winnie
Exhibit: Works on Glass
When: January 17 - 23
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 7-10:00PM
Where: Little Beasts Gallery, 1522 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Photography
Description: Manipulated imagery on glass, Winnie’s subjects explore “the frailty of the human condition.” With a focus on human form and emotional response, underlying mysterious narratives, which verge on fantasy, emerge throughout the exhibit.

NIK DUDUKOVICTHE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLDTHE BUTCHER - SAVANNAH, GA
Like evidence of an unsolved mystery, the 18 drawings (all ink and acrylic on Mylar, in addition to one copper etching) in Nik Dudukovic’s exhibit, The Greatest Story Never Told, are more “situation” than “story.” Images are related, but not sequential, like a display of artifacts intended to explain a culture’s history. There are simple illustrations, character profiles—Defender I (8”x10”), a whinnying horse in full armor, and Defender II (8”x10”), a tiger on hind-legs, teeth bared and claws spread as if to strike in mortal terror—are rendered in ink and acrylic washes, minimal color. There are full scenes: of children hunting, of giant beasts, either captured or released. The choice images force the viewer to assemble (or deconstruct) any plot among these pieces.
Inarguable about this world: it’s cold. Grey skies stretch across each scene, honing a solemn tone, tense silence. Human figures are dressed in fur-lined coats. Snow drifts cling to the ground. The emotional tone is reinstated by the use of ink washes, the Mylar and restricted use of color.
The Annual Hunt (16”x20”) depicts a pair of young men, each with his own shot gun. A flock of birds fly towards them, overhead. Positioned in the foreground, the lad to the left is half human, mythical—a pair of wings outstretch behind him, but they’re smallish, disproportioned to his body. He cradles his shotgun. His expression is fixed beyond the viewer, introverted, eyes unfocused. Beside him, the other young man aims his gun in malice, the barrel positioned at the winged-boy’s head. But the shooter is set slightly back. Wind draws the boy’s coat forward as he aims, as if he’s part of another atmospheric perspective (not a feather nor fold of fabric is adrift on the first figure). Between the two, on the ground, are a bird, a bug and a tortoise. All of the animals and human figures are monochromatic, drawn topically—the Victorian mansion and cluster of trees of the background, and the yellowed grass of the foreground are under-drawings on a layered cell, pulling them back from focus. Technical execution targets the dramatic irony of this piece: that the hunter is the hunted, that reality, and our perception of reality, are two different things.
Dudukovic, who is a Canadian resident formerly of Belgrade, takes inspiration from “graphics, diagrams, history, deities, evolution, monsters and elaborate narratives. The ideas [for The Greatest Story Never Told] are influenced by these interests and their representations,” Dudukovic says. He plays with different perspectives throughout the exhibit, showcasing The Creator of Worlds (8”x10”), a pair of hands, one red, one black, fingers interlocked, a blue raindrop falling above them, a leafed branch extending below them and The Destroyer of Worlds (8”x10”), one red hand, palm open, with a black snake slithering between figures, one black droplet falling from the wrist. These images could possibly explain the start and end of all the scenes and imagery in between, but explanations vary upon the viewer.
Likewise, there is the Creator of Nature (12”x16”), a silhouette in profile, lips open, a branch extended from the back of the head. The figure faces a red dot; below these drawings, another, of a bare black branch, shopped in two places, highlighted with a bleeding red. The antithesis is the Destroyer of Nature (12”x16”), a portrait of a horned, mythical-man. An image of two figures copulating is tattooed on his chest. Slender, dark-haired and bearded, he bares a slight resemblance to the artist. “I suppose there’s an autobiographical element to all of the images, but none of them are direct self-portraits,” Dudukovic says. “The Destroyer of Nature is an anti-hero. He is not someone I hope to become.”
[Image: “The Annual Hunt,” ink and acrylic on Mylar, 16” x 20”Photo courtesy of The Butcher Gallery ]

NIK DUDUKOVIC
THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD
THE BUTCHER - SAVANNAH, GA

Like evidence of an unsolved mystery, the 18 drawings (all ink and acrylic on Mylar, in addition to one copper etching) in Nik Dudukovic’s exhibit, The Greatest Story Never Told, are more “situation” than “story.” Images are related, but not sequential, like a display of artifacts intended to explain a culture’s history. There are simple illustrations, character profiles—Defender I (8”x10”), a whinnying horse in full armor, and Defender II (8”x10”), a tiger on hind-legs, teeth bared and claws spread as if to strike in mortal terror—are rendered in ink and acrylic washes, minimal color. There are full scenes: of children hunting, of giant beasts, either captured or released. The choice images force the viewer to assemble (or deconstruct) any plot among these pieces.

Inarguable about this world: it’s cold. Grey skies stretch across each scene, honing a solemn tone, tense silence. Human figures are dressed in fur-lined coats. Snow drifts cling to the ground. The emotional tone is reinstated by the use of ink washes, the Mylar and restricted use of color.

The Annual Hunt (16”x20”) depicts a pair of young men, each with his own shot gun. A flock of birds fly towards them, overhead. Positioned in the foreground, the lad to the left is half human, mythical—a pair of wings outstretch behind him, but they’re smallish, disproportioned to his body. He cradles his shotgun. His expression is fixed beyond the viewer, introverted, eyes unfocused. Beside him, the other young man aims his gun in malice, the barrel positioned at the winged-boy’s head. But the shooter is set slightly back. Wind draws the boy’s coat forward as he aims, as if he’s part of another atmospheric perspective (not a feather nor fold of fabric is adrift on the first figure). Between the two, on the ground, are a bird, a bug and a tortoise. All of the animals and human figures are monochromatic, drawn topically—the Victorian mansion and cluster of trees of the background, and the yellowed grass of the foreground are under-drawings on a layered cell, pulling them back from focus. Technical execution targets the dramatic irony of this piece: that the hunter is the hunted, that reality, and our perception of reality, are two different things.

Dudukovic, who is a Canadian resident formerly of Belgrade, takes inspiration from “graphics, diagrams, history, deities, evolution, monsters and elaborate narratives. The ideas [for The Greatest Story Never Told] are influenced by these interests and their representations,” Dudukovic says. He plays with different perspectives throughout the exhibit, showcasing The Creator of Worlds (8”x10”), a pair of hands, one red, one black, fingers interlocked, a blue raindrop falling above them, a leafed branch extending below them and The Destroyer of Worlds (8”x10”), one red hand, palm open, with a black snake slithering between figures, one black droplet falling from the wrist. These images could possibly explain the start and end of all the scenes and imagery in between, but explanations vary upon the viewer.

Likewise, there is the Creator of Nature (12”x16”), a silhouette in profile, lips open, a branch extended from the back of the head. The figure faces a red dot; below these drawings, another, of a bare black branch, shopped in two places, highlighted with a bleeding red. The antithesis is the Destroyer of Nature (12”x16”), a portrait of a horned, mythical-man. An image of two figures copulating is tattooed on his chest. Slender, dark-haired and bearded, he bares a slight resemblance to the artist. “I suppose there’s an autobiographical element to all of the images, but none of them are direct self-portraits,” Dudukovic says. “The Destroyer of Nature is an anti-hero. He is not someone I hope to become.”

[Image: “The Annual Hunt,” ink and acrylic on Mylar, 16” x 20”
Photo courtesy of The Butcher Gallery ]

SIDEWALK ARTS FESTIVAL 2012
FORSYTH PARK

Saturday, April 28th was a bright, warm day, perfect for art out-of-doors. Often the annual Sidewalk Arts Festival is subject to rain; this year dappled sunlight, laced through a veil of Live Oaks, lit the sidewalk squares as SCAD students and alumni rendered their original works before a slow-moving crowd of hundreds. The above images were taken on my midday tour down the Forsyth center line.

In the Studio with Christine Sajecki
Today I spent some time in the studio with Savannah artist Christine Sajecki. She is a Connecticut bred, SCAD alumna who is preparing for her forthcoming solo exhibition at 1704 Lincoln Gallery. American Villages, which is a series of encaustic paintings and works on paper, will open on Friday, May 4.
Using local beeswax from Rincon, damar resin, pigment and heat, Sajecki creates her medium. The paint solidifies after about a minute, demanding a swift, conscious hand. Her panels are thick with layers of paint, scraped down with a razor or built up with a brush, melded together by a torch. The paintings are slick to the touch. I have always been mystified by paint, especially such a process-oriented substance as encaustic or oil. She let me experiment with her medium; the above image is the result of my curious touch.
Nathan “Bob” Jones was around shooting images while I look notes. Check out his photographs here.

In the Studio with Christine Sajecki

Today I spent some time in the studio with Savannah artist Christine Sajecki. She is a Connecticut bred, SCAD alumna who is preparing for her forthcoming solo exhibition at 1704 Lincoln GalleryAmerican Villages, which is a series of encaustic paintings and works on paper, will open on Friday, May 4.

Using local beeswax from Rincon, damar resin, pigment and heat, Sajecki creates her medium. The paint solidifies after about a minute, demanding a swift, conscious hand. Her panels are thick with layers of paint, scraped down with a razor or built up with a brush, melded together by a torch. The paintings are slick to the touch. I have always been mystified by paint, especially such a process-oriented substance as encaustic or oil. She let me experiment with her medium; the above image is the result of my curious touch.

Nathan “Bob” Jones was around shooting images while I look notes. Check out his photographs here.

LEO VILLAREAL
JEPSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS 

Although Leo Villareal designed his original light sculpture as a way-finding devise, the self-titled survey of his work urges the viewer to disconnect from the world and lose oneself in the art. Lights pulse, flicker, fade and revive at ever-changing intervals. Villareal is a forefront artist in the light medium, recognized for his sculpture and site-specific, architectural installations. Inspired by Dan Flavin and James Turrell, Villareal’s work is likewise minimalist in approach. His sculptures are visual, but they are not about imagery. To look is not enough. The viewer must watch the lights metamorphose through spectrums and pattern-like evolutions. As they reinvent themselves, the pieces transform atmospheric perspectives, and the viewer’s internal response.

This is the first major touring museum survey of Villareal’s work. Primarily comprised of LEDs, Villareal also uses incandescent bulbs and strobe lights in his sculpture. He codes simple, custom software for each piece. These algorithms and kinetic lights become trance-inducing beacons. While almost all of the sculptures are simple shapes and abstract motions, one work depicts a concrete image. Flag (2008, LED tubes, custom software and electrical hardware) is as much a statement on the capabilities of light as Jasper John’s flag paintings are about paint. There are 26 tubes aligned in 13 horizontal rows. Momentarily illuminated as an American flag, the lights scintillate and become three flags, flash and become nonobjective jolts of red, white and blue, roving in and out of the original image. Villareal defragments the symbol. The piece reckons with issues of personal identity, beyond politics, reminding the viewer that an icon is a simplified representation of various experiences, with less emphasis on the sum, and more significance on the converging, individual characteristics.

The lights in each of these 17 works (1997-2010) separate and assemble at spontaneous intervals. Isolated in a subdivision of the gallery is Hive (2007, orange LEDs, wood, custom software and electrical hardware), an overhead installation. Clusters of orange LEDs are interspersed on a square suspended from the ceiling, creating a rain of palpable light. Each unit is a black box of 25 bulbs. They dance at different intervals, buzzing and flickering. Villareal exemplifies the title’s theme in both cause and effect: the countless clusters of lights are one kind of hive that creates another. The resulting atmosphere—festive, social—lures viewers beneath it, like the lights on a nightclub dance floor. That the piece feels like something purposed for a social gathering reflects a motif of emergence—a colony of bees, for example, or the transient, counter-cultural event Burning Man, where Villareal first displayed the precursor works that became his identifying artistic expression.

Although repetitive in components, each viewing of this exhibit creates a new experience. Among these works, the viewer is lost and found, lost and found again.

[Leo Villareal is on display at Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center for the Arts through June 3, 2012. 204 W. York Street, Savannah, GA. Telfair.org.]

[Images courtesy of Telfair Museum:
Leo Villareal; Flag, 2008, 75 x 144 x 4 inches, courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York; Photography by James Ewing Photography.
Leo Villareal; Metatron, 2002, (A.P. ed. 2); Plexiglas, incandescent light bulbs, custom software and electrical hardware; 60 x 60 x 6 inches, courtesy of Gering & Lopez Gallery, New York, Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Leo Villareal; Big Bang, 2008 (A.P. ed. 3), LEDs, aluminum, custom software and electrical hardware; 59 x 59 x 8 inches, courtesy of Connor Contemporary Art, Washington, DC; Photography by James Ewing Photography.]

—Elizabeth Rushing

TRIPLE THREAT: 3 ARTISTS REDEFINING SAVANNAH
MATT HEBERMEHL - MICHAL PORTEN - TROY WANDZEL
FLORIDA MINING GALLERY - JACKSONVILLE, FL

To define a city’s art scene is an uncertain task, especially when the local community is beneath the shadow of an international art school. SCAD brings great talent to Savannah, but the efforts of students and faculty directly reflect the college. Savannah artists not associated with SCAD are most acknowledged for the kitsch they market to tourists: landscapes of Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, an area so uniquely beautiful that artistic reproduction is a ruse.

Readdressing this perspective is a trio of artists: Matt Hebermehl, Michael Porten and Troy Wandzel—three SCAD alumni who have evolved from art students into distinct members of a misrepresented artistic community. In conjunction with curator Cindy Szczecinski of CAS Fine Art, they present three distinct styles of painting in the exhibit, Triple Threat: 3 Artists Redefining Savannah, at Florida Mining Gallery in Jacksonville, FL.

"Jacksonville has a set idea of what Savannah is," says Wandzel, who has exhibited there in the past. "They admire Savannah but they read [art by Savannah artists] as historical looking paintings and maybe impressionist-inspired paintings or marsh scenes, abstractions of landscapes and things like that. We’re just trying to spark something again. We’re forcing a point. We’re showing elements of Savannah that people may not really know."

An emphasis on line relates Hebermehl’s bright abstracts (2011-2012), Porten’s optical art panels (all 2012) and Wandzel’s self-portraits (2011-2012). “Each artist has a creative arsenal that threatens, redefines and constantly questions how art is conceived, created and consumed,” says Hebermehl.

For years, Hebermehl has worked with other artists to elevate Savannah’s art scene, organizing guerilla-style artist exhibitions on the streets of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District during Art Basel, helping publish zines and talking up the scene in national publications. (A 2010 profile in JUXTAPOZ Magazine quotes Hebermehl, “I didn’t want someone else’s scene. I made my own. Now’s the time. Savannah’s the place.” The paragraph lays more emphasis on the community in which he creates than it does his own creations.)

Hebermehl’s work in Triple Threat speaks for him. Long recognized for his icon and pattern based abstractions, Hebermehl’s paintings are reminiscent of street and fine artist David Ellis (who Hebermehl has worked with in the past). In the last few years, Hebermehl has painted with a restricted vocabulary of loops and lines; they are his trademark forms. The new abstract works, all acrylic and spray paint on panel, are a refined advance on his signature patterns. His color palette is hip, young: spray paint neon, candy-colored acrylics and black. In every canvas, the colors have momentum, rampancy; the black loops are painted with a conscious hand.

Many of his works play off others—'Round and 'Round, Slow and Low, and Get Down for the Upstroke are predominantly big black loops filled in or lined with blue, on a background of multicolored swipes. The canvases trace the natural motion of the free hand. Each is playfully gestural.

You Get What You Need is a picture of seven teardrop shapes, some inverted, that repress the fun-seeking pink, orange and blue curving lines of the background. Negative space is minimal. The black shapes in the foreground, built up with gold, dominate with solidity. They do not seem to sit immediately on top of the multicolored swoops but far in front of them, like a gate inhibiting a distant view. Feelings of restriction linger. The direct conflict of this panel: freedom and restriction, orderliness and disorder, coexist with comfortable tension.

Of similar composition is Go Time. One predominant curving line creates six abstract shapes of the same heavy black hand, rimmed in blue and gold. The black form here is relaxed; negative space eases the tension between foreground and background. Pink, yellow and blue spray paint scrolls slip between the larger lines. The title indicates an energy, the sense that something is happening—the forms are unfurling, reshaping. They’re still bound together. It’s an uncertain adventure, but one that feels inevitable. If You Get What You Need is symbolic of the past, then Go Time is of the present: from supposed to redefined, stagnant to kinetic, local to national, the lines in Go Time are evidence: the artist is in transition.

Each of the three artists offers some explorative variation on their aesthetic. Porten’s rigid line work is a stark contrast to Hebermehl’s abstracts. At once static and jolting, the black and white lines of Porten’s op-art panels (all acrylic) reverberate with tension. Intended to trick the eye, the crossover lines flinch; the subjects are elusive. The viewer must squint and examine the works from different angles, coaxing the feline in Ventoux and Veronique, or the baby in Age Spectrum into view. The images appear with an almost 3D-like quality.

Porten choreographs his lines with mathematical precision (a vinyl primer is part of his perfection). These works are outstanding in the context of work by Savannah artists—it’s a challenge to find anyone else in the area who paints anything similar—they exist in the same school as work by Bridget Riley and Tauba Auerbach, the artists who directly inspired him. “My style of painting is to not hide behind a style of painting,” Porten says. “I am always trying to learn new methods of creating work to facilitate new ideas.”

The works here are vastly different than the graphics-accented self portraits for which he is recognized. (In 2010, the #88 issue of New American Paintings (South division) featured Porten’s Symbolic Painting 2 on the cover. The painting is Porten’s self portrait in profile, monochromatic. Surrounding his face are the universal icons for man and woman, in multiple colors; behind Porten’s head, in different colors, are three groupings of curved lines.) Relative to his most recent worksPorten’s self portraits drift into the op-art realm with the red and white Glamour Nosebleed Shot series, but those images are subtle compared to the dizzying panels in Triple Threat.

The new works vary in subject—mostly faces, adult and infant, male and female, human and animal. There is one obvious self portrait. The composition of Me and Me focuses on Porten’s face; his full beard floats beyond the bottom edges of the picture. The lines manipulate the image, skewing his expression. One eyebrow is cocked as if puzzled. Porten’s op art deals directly with form; the repeated use of only black and white lines emphasizes a motif of opposites. Without color, the viewer is forced to focus solely on the subject matter, but the form conflicts this pursuit. Though metaphorically black and white represents the inarguable, these works force the viewer to examine the “gray matter,” or literally, what’s between the lines.

Things are not always what they seem—each of the artists play on this idea in their work. Wandzel’s seemingly obvious self portraiture is not about emotional expression. His repeat self portraits—always, the “looking face,” not angry or emotional—are an exploration of his curiosities. There is an emphasis on what his eye can see.

His lines are individual, relaxed. Curved, loosely crosshatched, his spacing allows the varying colored backgrounds to play a part of the skin he recreates. Three of the self portraits are painted on traditional rectangles in different colors: blue, yellow and clear plexiglass. Self With Line (oil enamel on Plexiglas) is capable of constant change. The clear blackground—the limitless backgrounds this piece can possess—represents the skin’s natural reactions to different elements: in sunlight, in a cold room, when wet. Self With Line, like Like Portrait #1 (yellow background) and Line Portrait #3 (blue background) is the same face, the same expression, but in different circumstances. The backgrounds reinvent the pieces entirely. These self portraits are about the artist’s unsatisfied obsession with painting human skin.

Repetition is how he reinvents himself. Wandzel has painted his own face thousands of times, since he began painting seriously in 2000. Early in his career, Sotheby’s Auction Houses displayed his work in their properties all over the world. In recent years, with the exception of participating in live painting events during community functions, Wandzel hasn’t exhibited. But he is always working. Recently unable to endure the heat of his downtown Savannah studio, Wandzel allowed himself to retreat into his air conditioned apartment but on one condition: he had to keep drawing on his iPhone. The simple touch self portraits evolved into this series of line paintings.

Much of his other work involves the lush, natural brushstrokes that lay the base of Head. Highlights in red, yellow, green and blue are painted along the contour of his features; they look vascular. The line work is sketchy. Head is not rectangular but rather cut around the edges to appear organic and suggest infinite space. This is the picture that unifies his idiosyncrasies: line work, brushwork, self portraiture, issues with color and space.

Wandzel has had trouble with rectangles and squares; he finds these traditional forms to be limiting. “They drive me crazy,” Wandzel says. [“It’s] sort of confining [to an] idea or work where—why you can’t turn a corner, why something can’t flow. Painting in general is so undefined now that anything, something that leans far more sculptural is still considered a painting, in those general terms.”

While each of these artists may exhibit their works successfully in an independent show, the works collective instill the greater purpose of society, locality. Triple Threat culminates in the collaborative piece, 3 Pac (acrylic and spray paint on panel, each 23.5 x 23.5”.) This is the only work where Hebermehl, Porten and Wandzel’s forms are in direct confrontation. 3 Pac is comprised of 25 panels. Porten’s black and white lines sweep across the background and his graphic imagery—a pink hand posed in a “thumbs up” in the top right corner, cartoon clouds and bubbles that float along the bottom right—pop out among the other artists’ details. A Wandzel head floats upward from the right, to the center of the piece, his beard adrift like a jellyfish in water. The panels curved sides interrupt a central portion of his face. Two huge Hebermehl loops, candy pink-yellow-blue, twist at the center, while the spray painted word "sigh." stretches across six panels from the bottom left. Like a neighborhood of different aesthetics, each artist’s hand mingles with complimentary yet distinct presence.

There are smaller bits of each artist intermixed: Hebermehl’s tribal paintings, Porten’s pop imagery and Wandzel’s highlights are so congruent that it seems unnecessary to individualize each artist’s contributions but easier, rather, to accept it as a whole. Should the parts of this piece be separated, the image would hardly survive. 3 Pac symbolizes the power of community, and the artist’s role within it. It is the apex of Triple Threat. It is the example of individuality and unity, how this artistic union represents their city outside of the Savannah demarcation. The blockade formation is a likeness to the urban grid of Savannah’s historic district, the very place they’ve redefined.

[3 Pac photo credit: Laird/ Blacpalm, courtesy of Florida Mining Gallery]

-Elizabeth Rushing

SAVANNAH STOPOVER BAND POSTER EXHIBITION
JEPSON CENTER FOR THE ARTS

The Savannah Stopover Music Festival—which has organized 100+ bands to play around downtown Savannah, March 7-10—kicked off opening night festivities with a merge of art and music at the Jepson Center for the Arts. Stopover summoned local artists to submit original poster designs for the 2012 lineup. More than 40 posters are on display. The exhibit includes an original piece by Savannah Artist Marcus Kenney to commemorate the festival’s opening night with headlining band, Oberhofer (limited edition prints are available.) Posters will hang through March 11.

No Control Festival: Live Painting

On February 18, 2012, Southern Pine Company hosted the No Control festival, an all day, all ages event centered around Savannah’s best indie bands. Not many cultural events take place in this community without a little live painting. Participating artists included Jimmy Butcher, Justin Harris, Adolfo Hernandez, Lamaho Kretzman, Jose Ray and Thomas Wharton, among them.

Katherine Sandoz for Savannah Art Walls’ Rotating Mural Project: Day 1

It’s the coldest day Savannah’s had this winter—temperatures dipped down to the 20’s—but artist Katherine Sandoz set out early to work. In conjunction with public arts organization seeSAW, Sandoz is painting an abstract coastal landscape on the western facade of a building at Habersham & 34th Streets. This is the first of many rotating-artists murals. The Grikitis family graciously lent the unoccupied commercial space for the project.

Originally Sandoz anticipated the project taking a full week; now she doesn’t think so. She has a lot of help. “I’ll have five girls,” Sandoz said—three of her former studio assistants and two current interns will assist her. seeSAW cofounders Matt Hebermehl and James “DrZ” Zdaniewski were also on site today, running errands and laying down paint. “I’ve got the professionals with me,” Sandoz said.

The wall is 100 feet long. With assistance from Sandoz’s husband, it took 20-25 minutes to spray the wall a 9 a.m. shade of sky blue. The artists spent the rest of the day blocking out the underpainting, while gospel music played from a house across the street.

Once complete, the mural will remain for three months.

OBJECTIFIED VISIONS
SHAWN TURNER

Cabinets of curiosities await the viewer at The Butcher gallery on Bay. Constructed from a multitude of natural and artificial elements, these three-dimensional pieces—sculptures, curio cabinets, shadow boxes—are filled with textural intrigue.

Shawn Turner is an artist, surely, but it’s difficult to specify—sculptor seems adequate, almost, except that his materials are so obscure the broad title falls short of summarizing his work. He’s created interiors in miniature, Curio #49 is like a grown man’s doll house: reptile eggshells and wood, maps and straps of leather, the different compartments may be opened and searched. Turner is a craftsman—a talented arranger of forms, capable of evoking beauty and new meaning from ordinary things.

"I kind of built [the pieces in Objectified Visions] on the premise of sacred fetishes—fetish as not a sexual term, but fetish as always a religious object. There’s several different tribal religions and cultures that would carry around these little temples with them so they always had a piece of their god or religion with them all the time and that’s kind of where I started building a lot of these pieces. And,” Turner says, “Sometimes I just put them together because I think they look really cool.”

Turner salvages materials from yard sales and junk shops and his personal collections. “I have people bring me weird stuff, all of the time,” he says.

Inspired by nature, Turner incorporates a lot of natural elements in his pieces. The entrance to Prince of Threads is leaves and roots and knobs of wood. A curved branch juts upward from the center of the box, like a handle. Inside the wooden box, Turner sculpted a crude figure with an open mouth and squinted eyes, the nose and proportions exaggerated. The figure wears a spiral crown, threaded shoulders, beaded necklaces and fibers regalia. A bird perches on his shoulder. Opposite the prince, a multicolored web of fibers hangs from a crooked mannequin finger.

As all the pieces in Objectified Visions, the construction of Prince of Threads is so solid the object seems organic.

"I don’t like when you go to see people’s work and you can actually figure out how it’s put together," Turner says. "I want the mystery to be there. I’m really funny about craftsmanship. [I feel that it is a lost art] because people just kind of slap shit together and I was brought up a little differently." Turner’s grandfather was a master wood turner, his mother a master tailor. He’s been building things since childhood. "There’s a lot of fine handiwork and finishings and there are very few pieces in that show that you’re actually going to see the screw or nail or the adhesive so it all looks like it kind of came together, like it was meant to be a natural object."

Clutchfoot, an assembly of random goods: folded papers, glass eyes taken from mink stoles, tangled threads, rusted nails, mannequin bits, among others, are encased in a wooden crutch. It is the most sculptural piece in the exhibit. The gourd, which Turner grew, dried and carved into a face, looks out at the viewer with docile expression—the up-gazing, mismatched eyes evoke a sense of innocence; a champagne cage is affixed like a pacifier in a baby’s mouth. Framed by the crutch, and anchored by a metal foot, there’s a semblance here of weakness, or the opportunity to gather strength.

His varied use of materials challenges the viewer to revaluate the meaning of an object—is it capable of change, or does the original meaning relay some deeper understanding of the piece?

[“The title, Objectified Visions] was sort of a play on words because of how we objectify things. Looking in the mirror, of course, you then become the objectified vision, hence the giant mirror in the front window,” Turner says. “But a lot of times, the things that become religious icons become objectified, therefore they’re sort of imbued with this sense of power—you know, a crucifix or anything that’s considered a religious item.”

Either as symbolic meaning or visual appeal, the works in Objectified Visions are sure to reveal something new each time you look.

[Objectified Visions by Shawn Turner is on display at The Butcher gallery through January 27. 19 E. Bay Street, Savannah, GA. 912-234-6505. Jimmybutcher.com]

Exhibition Openings: Friday, January 20, 2012

Artist: Emily Quintero
Exhibit: Reverie
When: Now through January 30
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 6-8:00PM
Where: Gallery Espresso, 234 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Painting/ Watercolor
Description: The subject matter—as inventive as fairy tales but vague as dreams—is comprised of transitional figures: at once skeleton and feminine flesh, or human with animal elements. The characters, and Quintero’s handling of her medium, create an enigmatic cast.

Artist: Group
Exhibit: Fresh Prints 2012
When: January 16- February 12
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 6-8:00PM
Where: Foxy Loxy, 1919 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Printmaking
Description: An exhibition of selected works by students in the fine arts program at Savannah State University.
Image Detail: Tune Out, Tae Walker, Woodcut, 2011 


Artist: Adam Gabriel Winnie
Exhibit: Works on Glass
When: January 17 - 23
Opening Reception: Tonight, Friday, 01/20, 7-10:00PM
Where: Little Beasts Gallery, 1522 Bull Street, Savannah, GA
Medium: Photography
Description: Manipulated imagery on glass, Winnie’s subjects explore “the frailty of the human condition.” With a focus on human form and emotional response, underlying mysterious narratives, which verge on fantasy, emerge throughout the exhibit.

Exhibition Openings: Friday, January 27, 2012
Exhibition Openings: Friday, January 20, 2012

About:

Welcome to Savannah. Along this creative coast are professional, residential artists who create in the hushed remove of international art capitols. This is not LA, London, New York. This is a block-line historic district of twenty-four squares devised more than 275 years ago. A place today that pulses with uncommon artistic quality. Savannah redraws the map.

The Savannah Art Map serves to unify the local artistic community, connecting artists to viewers, collectors and the world at large. This is a place to share and support. To submit exhibition info and ideas, contact: savannahartmap@gmail.com