Wednesday, May 19, 2010

more good press for Twist Art Gallery

Munger & White at Twist Gallery
Story by Sara Estes
Printmaker Jessica C. White and bookmaker Elizabeth Munger have occupied the downtown Arcade’s Twist Gallery since the opening at the January Art Crawl. The exhibit contains prints, drawings, mixed media paintings and books fashioned out of tympan paper. White and Munger both graduated from University of Iowa with an MFA in printmaking and a graduate certificate in book studies.
Curator of Twist Gallery Beth Gilmore said that she met the two women through Jerry Dale McFadden, gallery director and owner of the former neighboring Arcade gallery TAG. Gilmore immediately fell in love with the artists’ work when she saw White’s “Hellfire” print, which depicts a storybook-like scene of a young girl standing atop a hill with a rabbit and deer peering down at a massive fire in the distance, under which is written “It’s not hellfire. It’s just a regular fire.” As she lead me to the framed 16 by 12 inch print, Gilmore raved, “If you can have a favorite child of a show, this is it!”
Munger and White’s body of work synchronize quite well in this exhibition. At first glance, their work seems naïve and child-like, but as you venture into the details, it becomes apparent that the subject matter is much darker. White’s artwork contains imagery one might find in children’s books; however, the borderline sinister text provides a balancing layer of real-life metaphor. Playful and thought-provoking narratives are strung across long canvases in fragmented sentences. In the ink and watercolor piece titled “Heroes and Criminals,” White sparsely inserts enigmatic sentences such as “Could be an act of heroism or a crime. Occcasionally it is both” and “They feverishly worked on, unaware of the futility of their actions.”
In the large scale painting “The Inspection,” White uses simple and repetitive ink and watercolor line drawings to depict the story of a group of kids poking wooden sticks at an invisible entity. The children are accompanied by captions like “What is it?” and “I think I saw it move.” There is an underlying sense of panic and mystery beneath the images.
Munger’s body of work consists mostly of artist books with a few paintings and poems on display. She produces small handmade books with a vast array of subjects and employed materials.
I was intrigued by the first piece I came to in the gallery. Munger’s dark and daunting book, “A Murder by Ocular Sinister,” offset the lighthearted veil that seemed to cover the entire exhibit. Beyond the insouciant first impression of her work, there is a wealth of imagery that evokes feelings of fear and predation. When I asked the artist about her motivation for the dark subject matter, she replied, “Much of my art is self exploratory. I tend to process information slowly, and by working on ideas, thoughts, and experiences in a visual manner, I can take the time to understand them better. A lot of these tend to be geared toward emotions that I’m having a hard time with such as loss, depression and the passing of time. By putting these feelings out there, I hope to be able to connect with other people. “
The closing sentence in her letterpress book, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” reads, “I’m always afraid that I am the wolf.” I had the chance to ask Munger what that particular line meant to her. “It is an inner conflict that I have with myself about who I am, and whether or not I am who I project myself as,” she said. “Although I don’t believe you can be one without the other, good or bad, I worry a lot about self motivations, and whether or not I’m being a good person regardless of the consequences.”
Each artist has a press of her own that can be found online. White’s print shop and bindery, called Heroes and Criminals Press, has images, a book shop and description of her printing accessibilities. Munger is behind Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing Press.

Christy Showcase at Twist 58
Story and photo by Sara Estes
I am sad to announce that Twist’s sidecar gallery, Twist 58, has hosted its final show. Located in the top floor of the Arcade, Twist 58 had been a brilliant venue, hosting a variety of emerging local artists and displaying installations and unpredictable, atypical work.
The last show featured the work of Nashville artist Matt Christy. A graduate from Watkins College of Art and Design, Christy’s metier is the versatile collage. In his show titled Wrench, Rupture, Suture, he interpreted collage through painting, drawing, photography, digital composition and installation. Despite being a traditionally-trained artist, Christy is known for his sexually explicit imagery, complex themes and undertones, and his work appears to have been executed by a random, angst-ridden, hormone-raging teenager. Make no mistake, that characteristic is just what he intends. “The work is meant to be relatable. I’m not interested in showing people a perfectly rendered painting.” And if it’s true that showcasing a perfected skill can arrest the viewer from moving onward into the conceptual content of the work, Christy insists that he will have none of it. “I like when people can look at my work and say ‘I could’ve done that.’”
When asked about the thematic and aesthetic schemes of his show, Christy said, “I want my shows to have the quality of a sketch, yet the viewer has the sense that it is fully-rendered and complete.” He said his aim was to create an atmosphere dripping with “low-brow pleasure.” He used packets of Sweet-N-Low in a collage and in a tissue box piece, claiming that the ordinary condiment was a perfect symbol for his artistic concepts. The empty tissue box was a particularly attention-grabbing visual element. Due to the juxtaposition with collages showing butchered images of fashion models, the tissue box pulled open by ribbon bore an uncanny resemblance to female genitalia. It was blatant, crude sexual innuendo that forced the viewer to take a trip into the gutters of their mind with Christy as their tour guide.
Christy said that he spent a great amount of time examining the concepts of “the frame” and “the stain.” Each collage was framed in a specific and distinctive way. “I examine what is inside the frame just as much as what is outside the frame,” Christy said. “I use the frame as a metaphor.”
The stain, embodied in the muted pigment smeared on the gallery walls, was a visual conduit for the “ephemeral, fleeting nature of pleasure.” This concept also tied into his photographic work, which included images of ice cubes melting atop three different photographs. “The photographs catch pleasure in the moments of its passing. They catch bliss, intimacy between words. They are quiet moments of play,” explained the artist.
Christy is an artist-in-residence at Studio 1 at the Scarritt Bennett Center. Tour his studio and check out his new work at the Studio 1 Open Studio Night in March 2010.