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Gallery Project exhibit explores the idea of "Mind"

by John Carlos Cantu


Could there be a more difficult subject for an art exhibition than “Mind”?
After all, what is mind? Whose mind is it? And how does one go about visually representing it?
Enter Ann Arbor’s always ambitious Gallery Project. And leave it to their exhibition statement to tell us that their multimedia exhibit pulls together 57 differing takes on the subject — “whether recalling and interpreting; depicting and conveying; questioning and questing, or dreaming and fantasizing.”
That’s a lot of artful territory for a concept that doesn’t seem to have reasonable parameters — yet “Mind” is a natural extension of this cutting-edge gallery’s exploration of some difficult topics. Gallery Project relishes such intellectual challenges.

As the gallery’s exhibition statement adds: “Mind” represents the depths and breadth of human capacity; an infinitely expandable process, the content of which is limited only by individual imagination and creativity. It also entails the interface with the unknown whether it is called the higher self, God, or infinity.
“In contemporary life, mind is both a real and virtual concept,” says the Gallery Project. “Categorizations of mind such as consciousness; the subconscious; the unconscious; the preconscious; and the super-conscious have been analyzed and described. Scientists study cognitive structures such as schema and investigate complex mental processes. In popular culture, filmmakers and others have explored the richness of virtual and imaginary worlds.

“‘Mind,’” concludes the gallery statement, “invites artists to share their awareness, intuitions, and imaginings of these real and virtual worlds.”

Ann Arbor artists in the exhibit are Heather Accurso, Ken Anbender, Sarah Berkeley, Holly Brevig, Sarah Buckius, Rocco DePietro, Kathleen Letts, Collin McRae, Gloria Pritschet, Colin Raymond, Terri Sarris, Mike Sivak, and Sarah Williams. Juan Javier Pescador of Ypsilanti is also featured, along with others from around Michigan and the country.

These artists’ media are predictably far-flung. Included in the mix are traditional (and nontraditional) strains of paintings, drawings, ceramics and printmaking; while also on display are airbags, assemblage, installations and video. Needless to say, these artists seem to have a lot on their minds.

Andrew Jones’ foam, wire, acrylic paint, and epoxy putty “Adrift” is a sci-fi marvel that creates in sculpture what filmmaker James Cameron recently did with 3-dimensional filmmaking: craft a craggy, floating world that is its own sphere. “Adrift” — a miniature rocky precipice upon which a young woman reclines against a boulder nestled in a tranquil garden — hovers from the gallery ceiling right at average eye height. Something akin to overlooking a choice chunk of a Roger Dean Yes album cover, Jones’ work drifts along in its own space and time.

By contrast, Julie Miller and James Baker have created an intriguing venture into a visual infinity (and beyond) with their glass, wood, and LED light “Beyond the Façade” wall mirror. Mounted on the Gallery Project’s farthest wall with its blue and yellow LED lights receding symmetrically towards a background end point from the frame’s outer corners, “Beyond the Façade”'s spectacular reflections cascade upon themselves.

Robert Bruner’s “The Joker,” “The Sphere,” “Real Projective Space,” and “The Moore Space,” are all low-tech ink and marker on paper drawings whose schematics are as artistically pleasing as they are hermetically sealed. Not quite musical notation, each of these horizontally oriented sheets of paper features an expansive series of color-coded data running from one side of the paper to the other. With lines bounding from one set of entry to the next, each of these drawings features a fastidious curve to line system.

Sarah Williams’ “Recognition of Chinchilla” installation requires the viewer’s mindfulness to complete the artwork. Composed of a wooden plank base with 5 metal rods holding up an equal number of glass plates—each pane holding a speckled segment of the chinchilla’s figure—the work requires that we use an eye piece to complete the whole. Crafting a dominant image out of the installation's dissimilar parts, our visual perception completes Williams’ whimsical gestalt.

Sarah Buckius’ monumental video installation “Unsettled Value” is this show’s hidden gem, at the far corner of the gallery basement. The installation consists of a corner strewn with empty cardboard boxes from where the squeaking sound of a hamster cage lures viewers. On entering this maze, Buckius’ signature miniature video “androgyforms” busily arrange and rearrange equally minuscule boxes across the sides of the haphazardly amassed installation. In Buckius’ hands, art is nothing less than a Sisyphean task. Oh well, it’s a good thing both the artist and her diminutive video assistants never seem to mind….