Art Sprawl

"an irregularly spread or scattered group or mass"

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Letters on “The Painting Show”

In this exchange of letters between myself, Ellen Mueller, and Anda Tanaka, we reflect on the exhibition, The Painting Show, curated by Emma Beatrez, Rachel Collier, Ryan Fontaine, and Kristin Van Loon. This show ran October 4 – 23, 2022 at Hair+Nails, 2222 1/2 E. 35th St. Minneapolis, MN 55407.

For all reflections on Art Sprawl, there is an accompanying  printed zine.

abstract felted painting with neons

Rachel Collier, “Life in whispers” (2022) wool on canvas, 62″x41″

written letter

two nude women on a bucking horse

Andrea Qual, “Buck” (2022) oil on canvas, 60″x40″

written letter

painting of two nude female figures under two suns

Lauren dela Roche, “Two Suns” (2022) fabric pen, oil paint pen, mineral spirit archival varnish spray with UVLS on canvas, 62″ x42″

written letter

abstracting painting with photos in a black frame

Joe Schaeffer, “Translation No. 11 (2022) ink, oil, acrylic, digital print on canvas, 60″x40”

written letter

person with bouquet on stool with cat

Matt Momchilov, “Man With Authentic Bouquet” (2022) oil on canvas, 60″x40″

written letter

a floating outhouse under a rainbow

Bruce Tapola, “Axis Mundi (Atom Smasher)” (2022) oil and acrylic on canvas, 60″x40″

written letter

a killer whale with seals and figures

Autumn Garrington, “Killer” (2022) oil on canvas, 60″x40″

written letter

If you would like to read the letters with screen-reading technology, please find them typed in this document for accessibility.

Disclosure: I know Anda Tanaka and Emma Beatrez as past students when I was directing the MFA program at MCAD. I’ve spent time talking to Ryan Fontaine and Kristin Van Loon as the gallery owners of Hair + Nails at several of their shows and events over the past few years.


Conversation on “पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” by Roshan Ganu at SooVAC

In this short conversation between Kelsey Bosch and Alonzo Pantoja, they reflect on the exhibition, पौर्णिमा : : Gazing Into the Full Moon Night, by Roshan Ganu. This show runs October 16 – November 12, 2022 at SooVAC, 2909 Bryant Avenue South #101, Minneapolis, MN 55408.

For all reviews, there is an accompanying  printed zine.

projections on walls

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Kelsey Bosch

AP: How do you orient your body to the space?

KB: When I arrived the imagery of the Arabian Sea flooded the room. I was swept in immediately, overtaken by water and all the light bouncing around the room from the projectors and mirrors; I thought about reflective and sparkly things, stars, and dreamscapes. As I began moving through the space I noticed the inclusion of my body in the imagery, an eclipsing body orbiting the projector. I am a moon myself. I considered attempting to find a path through the entire exhibition without creating an eclipse. However, taken by the imagery running across multiple planes in the gallery, I got caught up in the arrangement of the projectors. I began using my body as a locator of light.

Not being a performance artist, the experience of wandering through the exhibition felt performative, or perhaps ritualistic. First flowing through its entirety to take it all in, I later spent more time in each space experiencing the image and sound completely and took note of the consideration of the gallery architecture. I circled through three or four times, passing from earthly to lunar landscapes, the elongation and bending of imagery and the shortening of space. Space suddenly seemed much more malleable.

a tree sculpture, a mirror on the floor, and a gallery visitor

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Ellen Mueller

KB: What is the relationship between the lone tree and the rest of the exhibition?

AP: To me the lone tree is a gathering point as well as part of the story. It’s the only three-dimensional (in the round) work that is in the exhibition – aside from the mirrors. And this to me amplifies the 2D aspect of the work. It also is positioned in the middle of two galleries and so I see it as this point of rest for the “traveler.” The small scale of the tree allows for more intimate examination of it and again re-orienting us to our surroundings and ourselves. Roshan’s work is all connected in some way. The moon, the tides, the sounds, light, self, identity, home – all are present in the work that allows for multiple entry points to the work. The work is not singular or linear, but multifaceted, vast and yet structured by a layer of comfort and familiarity. Roshan’s work brings down barriers and strips away the hierarchies of art and design associated with the white wall. This truly allows for the viewers to feel involved, to feel a sense of agency.

a person standing in a projected image

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Kelsey Bosch

AP: How does time operate in relation to the show?

KB: Time operates cyclically through the looping imagery and sound, pairing with lunar cycles and orbits. But time does not operate without space, and there is an extreme collapsing of space. In the front of the gallery is imagery of the Arabian Sea, Shandtadurga Temple, an animation inspired by Un voyage dans la lune, suggesting that I am situated on earth. In the back of the gallery the lunar landscape is seen as though I am standing on the moon. So spacetime is collapsing or shortening. The tree and moon sculptures within the exhibition remain fixed and ageless, which stabilize that I am still to understand time on human scale. This reminded me of the uncanny relativity of time while traveling through space. Time is familiar and yet unknowable, its scale too unfathomably large for our senses.

Because of time’s unknowability, I wanted to let go of my understanding of the physical world; despite what I know of time, my experience here felt timeless.

a white neon circle on a brick wall

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), neon wall sculpture. Photo Credit: Ellen Mueller

KB: How did sound affect your experience of the show?

AP: Sound is a beautiful phenomenon. Personally, sound to me is connected to memory. While I recall that there is sound in the exhibition looking back at it I am having trouble pinpointing the exact sounds within the space. I think Roshan’s awareness of sound is special to her practice and her work. Roshan is a storyteller and the way that she selects words, pitches, tones embodies so many metaphors. That being said I personally resonated more with the echoes of the space and the rustling of bodies moving around and navigating the exhibition. There was a sense of interconnectedness that contributed to a collective experience, but also an individual one.

projection of the moon's surface

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Alonzo Pantoja

AP: Where do you stop to rest?

KB: I found myself resting in the lunar landscape, on my own trip to the moon. When I first entered that space it felt a little disorienting to see myself projected on the moon. This is likely the closest I will ever get to walking on that landscape so I spent a lot of time there…playing more so than resting.

close up of a projection

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Ellen Mueller

KB: Where did you find yourself lingering within the exhibition, and why that place?

AP: One of the immediate things that I connected with was the curtain that was at the beginning of the exhibition. It not only reminded me of home, but it also invites the audience to be part of the installation. Soon after you are welcomed by shadows, lights, echoes and movement. There are multiple gathering points within the gallery and Roshan does a poignant job of utilizing mirrors not only formally, but conceptually. I found myself gravitating to the mirrors – perhaps because of their familiarity or perhaps because of the way that the light reflected. I saw these mirrors as portals, entry points to the work, but also as a way to re-orientate myself to the exhibition. Throughout the exhibition I kept looking for the mirrors and trying to see where they were pointing to. Questions that came up: how did I appear? How did others appear? What else appears in the mirrors?

a person in a colorful garment

“पौर्णिमा : Gazing Into The Full Moon Night” (2022), projected video, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Ellen Mueller

Kelsey Bosch is a media artist and interactive sound designer who teaches media art, filmmaking, and graphic design at St. Olaf College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and St. Cloud State University.

Alonzo Pantoja is a queer, brown artist and educator – currently teaching at Augsburg University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Textile Center. Instagram: @cilantro.cutie

Disclosure: I know Kelsey Bosch, Alonzo Pantoja, and Roshan Ganu from when I was directing the MFA program at MCAD; all three are alumni of the program.

Conversation on “HERE BEFORE” by Mike Marks at Burnet Fine Art & Advisory

In this short conversation reflecting on the exhibition, HERE BEFORE – Woodcuts and Drawings by Mike Marks, Shirin Ghoraishi and Ellen Mueller pose questions for one another after viewing Mike Marks‘ work. This show runs September 16 – October 22, 2022 at Burnet Fine Art & Advisory, 775 Lake St E, Wayzata, MN 55391.

For all reviews, there is an accompanying  printed zine.

halftone close up

Fast Water Moving Still [detail] (2022) woodcut on paper, edition of 8

EM: What drew you to this exhibition?

SG: I’ve always been drawn to the concept of memory and space, preservation of an experience. The combination of printmaking and digital representations of nature is initially what I was drawn to. But beyond that as an audience I look for a personal connection and how I am immersed in a work of art.  What I search for in a work of art is to comfort me, challenge me or educate me. I find comfort in the fog and hazinees aesthetic of Mike Marks. The grayishness of his work conveys sinking in a faded memory that is emerging, soon to be remembered. The landscapes can be anywhere and anytime or for me I just made a connection to an invented memory from my imagination as a child daydreaming in a class.

a night sky

The Endless Glowing Hours (Green) (2022) woodcut on paper, edition of 10

SG: What was the first thing you noticed about his work?And do you know why you noticed that?

EM: The first thing I noticed were the repeated mark-making elements, almost like the artist was developing an alphabet for a visual language. I saw the perforations, the wood cut grids acting as a type of halftone pattern, the gestural graphite designating vegetation, and areas with powdered material.


Landshaper Rapids II (2022) woodcut on Kozo paper, edition of 10

EM: Were there any stand-out or favorite works in the exhibition for you? And if yes, which ones and why?

SG: Yes, My favourite is Land Shaper (Rapids II). It Stand-out to me  as a mystery that I had to step back and get away from to see the picture and for it to reveal itself. A form of engagement and a sense of control that I felt more with this artwork.

arrows on a gray background

Stream Drop [detail] (2022) graphite and perforations on paper

SG: What does his work make you think of?

EM: I spent a lot of time thinking about air or atmosphere or wind, and it was because of the perforation lines made of dots that either remained visibly white in fields of darkness, or caught dark pigment as they scattered across white negative spaces. While sometimes they created recognizable shapes (arrows, etc.), I was most intrigued by areas where the perforations simply provided texture, such as where there were repeated vertical marks made by the tool.

view of a river

River Glare [detail] (2022) graphite, colored pencil, and perforations on paper

EM: If you could ask the artist any question, what would it be and why?

SG: While making this body of work did he get any result he did not intend for, if so what was it?

icy landscape in gray

Icy Flow [detail] (2022) graphite, gouache, ink, and perforations on paper

SG: Thinking about the show, what do you remember after a week? Why do you think you remember what you did?

EM: A week later, the idea of landscape sticks with me the most, likely because I think a lot about landscape in general, and in connection to issues of climate change and habitat loss.

Disclosure: I know Shirin Ghoraishi from when I was directing the MFA program at MCAD; she was a 2020 graduate.

Reflection on “Containment Strategies” by Sarah Kusa at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

This is a short reflection on the exhibition, Containment Strategies by Sarah Kusa running September 10-Oct 23, 2022 at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, Visual Arts Building, 2004 Randolph Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105, (Open Mon-Thu: 8am-8pm; Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat-Sun: Noon-6pm). The format of this reflection is seven sentences and images. In printed form, the text is arranged to form a grid reminiscent of the installation. Check out the printed zine.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Wavy irregular grids of feather-light insulating foam are assembled into pink cube forms.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Tricks of reflected light and shadow play out with some of the pink surfaces painted red, while others retained sporadic red printed type from the foam manufacturer.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

The lightness of these cages is further emphasized with multiple pieces pinned to the ceiling.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Barely perceptible pins hold these delicate structures together at the seams.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Close-looking reveals that these were all hand-cut.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Some of the most interesting looking occurs at the densest points, with several overlapping cubes providing a near-moire pattern as layer upon layer anxiously melts together.

pink foam gridded forms

Sarah Kusa, “Containment Strategies” (2022) installed at The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery

Ideas of the individual versus the collective come to mind as these cubes are stacked and clustered, looking similar at first pass, but clearly all unique upon closer inspection.

Reflection on “Abject Permanence” by Allison Baker at Dreamsong

This is a short reflection on the exhibition, Abject Permanence by Allison Baker running Sept 10-Oct 22, 2022 at Dreamsong, 1237 4th St NE, Minneapolis MN 55413 (Open Wed-Sat 12-5pm). The format of this reflection is a single sentence per image. This content is also available as a printed zine.

mended cup with plant

Bookcase [detail] (2022) paper pulp, silicone, resin, foam, steel, mug, 53x30x24″

Because of its somewhat hidden placement, the grotesque neon glue, and crooked sharp seams, my favorite moment in the show was this  cup that seemed to be barely holding itself together after having had a hold drilled in it.

colorful boxy sculpture with glove and plant

Bookcase (2022) paper pulp, silicone, resin, foam, steel, mug, 53x30x24″

The cup was located near the bottom of Bookcase and required looking past the tempting tactility of the glove at eye-level, and kneeling down to see what that neon orange was about – barely peaked out from beneath leaves that seemed to be rendered with care.

four different cast gloves

Cast gloves from four different sculptures

These colorful work-gloves appeared in several of the sculptures, and sometimes as a stand-alone object, which felt fitting as a key element of the visual language the artist is playing with.

detail of blue abstract sculpture

Serpent (2022) epoxy resin, silicone, steel, 17 1/4x18x6 1/2″

Looking at the varied surfaces in the exhibition, this phrase from the written materials felt most resonant: “What we covet and possess absorbs and manifests anxiety.”

linear blue abstract sculpture

The Gate of the Rose (2022) Paper pulp, silicone, steel, 54x44x60″

The moments where the visual references were most open to interpretation drew me in, as in The Gate of the Rose [detail pictured here] or Cactus [pictured below from three different angles].

a cactus leave from three views

Cactus (2022) resin, 5x5x4 1/2″

I closely examined the translucent quality of many of the sculptural vegetation forms, which ranged from precise castings to more exaggerated cartoon-like forms.

half of a pomegranate

Rotten Fruit (2022) resin, 1 1/2x4x4″

I almost missed Rotten Fruit located in the back corner of the back room, and was glad the gallery sitter pointed it out to me because I enjoyed how it seemed to contrast the rest of the objects, with its lack of saturated colors and small scale, quietly amplifying the bulbous forms found elsewhere in the space.

three purple rock forms with green leaves sprouting

Rock Study #1-3 (2022) paper pulp, silicone, steel, 5 1/2×2 1/2×2 1/2″

While there were also collaged drawings and video work, the sculptures drew me in the most with their sheer color, scale, texture, and contrast.

Disclosure: I briefly met the artist at two different opening receptions in spring 2022 when I was directing the MFA program at MCAD, and invited her to serve as a mentor.

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