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Review Archive

Gallery Project's 'Warp' exhibit looks at interconnectedness

by John Carlos Cantu


Gallery Project’s “Warp” is everything the gallery grapples with on a routine basis. It’s just a little bit more — err, warped.

As the exhibit’s organizers (Detroiters Bethany Shorb and Addie Langford) tell us, the display is a “close observation of the interconnectivity of social, political, technological, or natural systems and the intricacies these networks create.”

This comment obviously falls well along the lines of Gallery Project's modus operandi: Find a controversy; address it; and illustrate it. This gallery’s greatest strength is finding the cutting-edge post-modern talent to provocatively tackle the issue at hand.

The gallery’s exhibition statement observes that “Warp” finds these artists “pondering the inconceivable notion of complexity and interconnectivity often break(ing) ground in the realm of materials and methods, the utilization of combinations, proportions and color.”

The emphasis on color makes “Warp” a rather special Gallery Project presentation. The gallery’s restless exploration of ideas is present in this display, but there’s an additional interest in chromaticity here (or, in certainly a few special instances, a purposeful lack of color) that enlivens the proceedings.

The exhibit is summarized as a “weaving” — there’s that warp thing again — which “acts as a metaphor for cultural complexity” through which “many, often fragile, autonomous parts come together to create a resilient whole.”

This resilient approach is what Gallery Project does best. And it makes these artists’ “Warp” expand considerably outside of the mainstream—even if by Gallery Project standards the art is relatively understated.

Participants are organizers Langford and Shorb; as well as Brett Ian Balogh, Susan Goethel Campbell, David Chung, Rocco DePietro, Xia Gao, Dorothy Anderson Grow, Michelle Hinebrook, Sarah Kaufmann, Gerhardt Knodel, Melanie Manos, Steve McShane, Erin Moran, Sabrina Nelson, Phoenix Perry, Aaron Peterman, Teresa Petersen, Gloria Pritschet, Sharon Que, Sadie Sheldon, Cedric Tai, Nishiki Tayui, Benjamin Teague, David Thomas, Cristen Velliky, and Marius Watz. Massachusetts Nervous System design studio has also contributed to the display.

Of the more pronounced colorful art, Phoenix Perry’s giclee print on vinyl, “Step into the Light”; Nishiki Tayui’s oil on linen triptych, “Sanmon (Three Gates)”; and Sarah Kaufmann’s “Little Weft” textile, illustrate three differing kinds of warps.

Perry’s “Step into the Light” is a computer-generated marvel whose abstracted purple and black bristly growth blends energetically in and out of its background. By contrast, Tayui’s “Sanmon (Three Gates)” oil on linen triptych consists of surreally oriented geometric abstractions placed against balmy cloud relief to create oversized cdreamscapes. And Kaufmann’s “Little Weft” is a happy warp of another color, being a hanging fiberwork consisting of hundreds of multicolored lengthwise strands broken only by irregular strands and tassels.

Two works in this display—Susan Goethel Campbell’s relief print with perforations “Aerial No. 2” and Brett Ian Balogh’s computer simulation “Invisible Cities”—are monochromatic masterworks that are as vivid as the colorful artworks on display.

Campbell’s “Aerial No. 2” (like its companion piece “Aerial No. 5”) is a Whistlerish relief print whose exceedingly subtle ground looks like a dimly lit seascape. Yet Campbell’s strategically placed perforations also animate the work through a rapid-fire series of diagonal punctures. An inspired noir-firework celebration, “Aerial No. 2” is spellbinding.

Likewise, this exhibit’s special installation is Balogh’s “Invisible Cities” nestled in the farthest reach of the gallery’s basement. This multi-media video installation consists of a rumbling, low-pitched drone that repeatedly rises and falls as the installation’s black and white schematic cityscapes construct and deconstruct. Haunting, yet also oddly exhilarating, Balogh’s “Cities” is a skeletal travelogue whose spectral comings and goings are visually riveting.

“Warp” will continue through Jan. 9 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave. Exhibit hours are noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-997-7012.