Gallery Project's "Capturing Motion" is a fun, dynamic experience
by John Carlos Cantu
The Gallery Project’s “Capturing Motion” just won’t stand for you to watch it.
Featuring what the gallery’s press statement describes as artful “motion broadly defined in its many forms, nuances and expressions,” the Gallery Project has grandly succeeded in presenting an array of kinetic art that demands the viewer’s undivided attention. Because if you blink; it’ll likely be gone — moving on.
Well, gone momentarily. For “Capturing Motion” proves without question (if there ever was one) that this gallery, devoted to the thinking person’s art, provides our community with a vital aesthetic and intellectual resource that’s going to leave us immeasurably impoverished if and when it concludes its initial projected run early next year. (The gallery was initially funded for five years.)
Each successive display the Gallery Project has presented through these last four years has topped what came before it. And just when it seems the gallery can’t seemingly go any further or get any better, an extraordinary display like “Capturing Motion” makes its appearance.
Virtually each of the 54 artworks collected for this exhibit would be a standout in any other show. Here, they merely collectively reinforce the gallery’s stated mission to provide “contemporary art that is culturally aware, individualistic, courageous, and thought provoking.”
As Gallery Project co-directors (and curators) Gloria Pritschet and Rocco DePietro tell us in their exhibit statement, “Where there is life there is the impulse to move. ‘Capturing Motion’ brings together artists whose work moves — or expresses, depicts, or implies movement — via the characteristics and constraints of its medium.
“Artists in the exhibit are challenged to consider motion broadly, its many forms, nuances, and expressions,” the statement continues. “The artist might use the body to explore movement through performance, or might use robotics and kinetic sculptures, or generate motion with light and shadow. Movements might be shaped by space or time. They might be made by a person, or parts of the body, or objects, or media. Such movements might be presented live or documented with installation or video.”
“Capturing Motion” is all this. And a lot more, too: mostly fun. Its various contraptions — video and performance arts; zoetropes, mutoscopes, and hand-crank flip books; as well as one very special immersive audio/visual gallery installation — are not only thought provoking. They’re also amusing and exhilarating.
By inviting the audience to engage with the artworks, the exhibit successfully tears down the wall between art and observation in favor of a dynamic experience.
For example, of hand-cranked flip books alone, Krysti Spence’s “Balance,” “Skateland,” and “Look” vie with each other for imaginative interaction; while Gary Schwartz’s mutoscope automatic flip book on turntable, “Pumpernickel & Rye,” just flips serenely on its own. Frank Pahl and Terri Sarris’ “Forward … Back” installation grows and shrinks before our eyes. And Schwartz’s zoetropes — “Judge Woodward” (wood puppets on a rotating potter’s wheel) and “Phi” (wood puppets on an equally rotating turntable) — march lockstep in nonstop circles.
Of the many videos projected in the exhibit, Peter Sparling’s “Side B” video features the exceedingly supple movement of multiple male dancers. Eric Dyer’s “The Bellows March” recapitulates in stop-motion, frames drawn from his “Bursting Buds” and “SkateHelix Trans” archival inkjet prints. J.K. Keller’s “The Adaption of My Generation (Living My Life Faster, Oct. 1 1998-2006)” flashes forward nine years of successive video self-portraiture through various coifs and guises.
There’s so much on display, first-rate photography and surprising kinetic sculpture are wedged unobtrusively between multiple video monitors. Although, admittedly, it would be remiss to not make mention of Frank Pahl’s “Automated Chime Ensemble No. 1” — one of his paradoxically sophisticated low-tech sound machines cobbled together from the most surprising bits and pieces — if only because so little art seeks to sweetly serenade its viewer.
Just plan to stick around for a while; too hasty a visit will result in missing one or another artistic rarity that likely won’t be seen again: For example, Bonnie Mitchell’s and Elainie Lillios’ audio/visual “Inhabitants” installation in the Gallery Project basement
There's seemingly always one artwork in each Gallery Project show that tops the exhibit through its sheer bravado. And “Inhabitants” certainly fits the bill.
The installation, structured by Mitchell’s wall-sized video montage depicting organic growth and abetted by Lillios’ aural soundtrack, features an environment where patterns of light flash on the floor while a series of statements float in and out of sight. A thoroughly heady experience, “Inhabitants” sums up “Capturing Motion” by capturing its audience through an interactive milieu that’s as precise an integration of audio and visual elements as it is a fully immersive visual and sonic experience.