Sunday, July 01, 2007

Attitude Adjustment

Weekend before last, I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Winkleman of Plus Ultra/Winkelman Gallery, and the Ed Winkleman blog. I've mentioned Ed's blog here, and on maykr before. It's one of the most insightful and engaging art blogs around, both for Ed's takes on issues as well as the conversations his posts spawn in the reader posted comments. He's an accessible individual, and clearly a thoughtful advocate for artists.

Ed was part of a panel discussion on collecting at the Affordable Art Fair. The panel was moderated by
Lisa Hunter and also included Lindsey Pollock and Tom Delavan of Domino Magazine.

I ran through the fair, waiting for something to catch my eye. Only two things did. Ross Bonfanti's cement filled
stuffed animals, and Nona Orbach's messy collages.

I then hustled down to Sperone Westwater to see the recent Richard Tuttle exhibit,
Memory Comes From Dark Extension and was instantly disappointed. The work in this exhibit it is a multitude of small collage/assemblage work all of which is mounted to the wall using a small bracket of wood and hand tooled bronze that holds the work 3" off the wall. Most of the work in the front gallery uses heavy stock watercolor-type paper that is occasionally bent and creased and painted with watercolor and sometimes collaged. None of the work exceeds 5" in dimension. These pieces felt crafty, not inspired, and looked better in the website photos. There were a few pieces in the front gallery that incorporated oddly shaped scraps of wood that I preferred, but still, I was not impressed.

I proceeded back to a rear gallery, and the first piece I saw was a rounded triangular shape of torn paper about the size of a quarter with some blue crayon scribbling on it stuck to the end of the bracket. I was struck, and the light entered my brain. The interaction of this scrape of paper with the hanging support was in wonderful, messy proportion, and for the first time I noticed the element integral to all of the work in the show; the shadow.

I returned to the front gallery and was able to see that work with my eyes and sensibilities properly adjusted. Still, the work of this series, was the least favorite of the exhibit, but I was able to appreciate them for what they were offering.

This exhibit is full of the wonderful moments that Tuttle allows to happen. Fortunately, the work was patient enough with me to allow me to take the time to calibrate my senses and perception to receive all that it had to offer. Walking through the galleries of this exhibited provided a viscerally learned lesson on the power of art, and the rewards that can come when one takes up the responsibility of meeting the work on its terms.