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A Diverse Display of Art at the Hi-Temp Building

"Sun and Moon" (stained glass) by Ann Kelley
"The Falls of Twilight" (acrylic and cold wax) by Ted Butler

On Death & Everything

Many works of art celebrate life. A smaller number celebrate death. Among the more interesting art in the multi-artist show at the Hi-Temp building are works by a couple of artists celebrating death.

Artist Anne Theresa Kelley has a dozen or so stained glass works—candidate church windows—and several painting preliminary designs for eventual stained glass production, all ostensibly with reference—it’s a rather comprehensive reference—to Saint Francis of Assisi’s great poem of praise of the Creator for the creation, called variously the Canticle of the Sun or Canticle of the Creatures. The poem gives praise and thanks for major components of creation, which Francis personalizes and addresses familiarly as Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Sister Water, Brother Fire, Mother Earth.

Most of the stained glass works as well as the paintings consist of representational to semi-abstract depictions of the sun, moon, stars, the world, the cosmos, birds of the air, fish of the sea, in luminous tones of blue to yellow to orange to bright red. Birds are immaculate white against the cerulean sky. Fish are flecks of blue/black amid the blue waters around them. But against all this imagery of amiable, agreeable, delightful colors and components of creation, one large glass piece contrasts severely. A vertically elongated “O” in basic black around a light blue center opening of the circle or ellipse figure.

If all the other works of this artist are about components of creation as life symbols, this one seems to be about death. But not as a bane, but a bona fide and necessary element of the natural order, much like the sun and moon and water and fire. In accord with the startling penultimate verse of Francis’s poem, giving thanks and praise to the Creator for Sora nostra Morte corporale, Sister Death.

In another part of the gallery, artist Su Yang has three large unframed canvases in murkiest tones, the murkiness in one instance rather surprisingly relieved by the garish intrusion of a great swath of glitter silver across most of the center of the painting. The glitter piece is otherwise basically just abstract muddy darkness, with a gobbet or two of dirty orange along an edge or in a corner, but not much altering the darkness effect. The glitter intrusion at first look doesn’t even seem to belong.

The other two works—and the three works clearly seem to be a series—are nocturnal cityscapes, obscured by the darkness, the somehow less than great perspective, maybe even the weather. In the one case presenting an Edward Hopperesque second floor row of blank windows, as if there might be people in there that we’re never going to get to know anything about, except that they’re probably transient in some way. Maybe going somewhere, maybe not, but going through something. In the other case, speeding traffic, it looks like, on an ill-lit street. Three versions of noir.

You puzzle over the glitter intrusion. And suddenly recognize the shape, the form. The outline, like a chalk outline on the street to show where the body lay, how it was positioned, before it was removed to the morgue. Trunk and head, and arms outstretched above the head. Remember the poster image for the old movie—classic movie, classic poster—Anatomy of a Murder? That image. Or exactly reminiscent.

Kind of a celebration of death. Not quite of the Saint Francis variety. More of the murder mystery variety. Popular literary genre, about death.

Many more artworks in the show, which features thirteen artists in all, all with multiple works, in some cases several dozen.

Ted Butler has a series of paintings in a little-used, little-known, cold wax and oils technique. Basically abstract works, with a notably tactile sensuous quality from the wax and vivid pigments combination. One in deep orange tones with pin-line striations looks like something between a spider web and city street plan. Another looks like an airplane view of variegated tapestry of agricultural fields and facilities.

George Gilham has a series of pixilated technique small oil paintings of nature scenes, some showing the same or similar scenes observed at different seasons.

From Dianne Baker, free-standing and wall-hanging sculptures of old and rusted industrial materials, old tools; from Patti Harris, wall-hanging constructions out of scraps of domestic demolition materials, old molding, old locks, old keys; from Meaghann O’Brien, painting and photography of nature scenes, landscapes and sky; from Barbara Mink, a triptych, large, abstract, in acrylic and ink; from Mary Ellen Andragna Bossert, paintings and wall-hanging sculptures featuring vast numbers of orbs; from Kelly Walsh, nature photography looking out from ice caves, riding lake waves.

Other paintings by Markenzy Cesar, Donna Pasqarella, and Nick Sardynski. One, by Sardynski, a large pan-allegorical work, with references to a multitude of world religions or cults, from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition to Buddhism, Celtic druidry, Greek hero cults, devil worship, even one of the extraterrestrials supposed to have dropped in at Roswell, NM.

The exhibit remains on view through the next week or so.

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