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As he sees Indiana

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Coopers Hawk
  • Robert Clark
  • Cooper's Hawk

The first thing I notice about Robert Clark’s art — besides the fact that it’s hanging in the blissfully-air-conditioned T.K. Nelson Gallery (6331 N. Keystone Avenue) — is that Clark has brought an AMAZING amount of detail to the canvas. His colors are so sharp and vivid it’s like an entire Crayola factory just dipped me and snuck a kiss. I look closer, knowing that I’m getting dangerously close to the art, half-waiting for a sharp “Don’t touch that!” to come from behind me. I think the work is a really well-done painting but my photographer friend insists the decorated canvases are photographs. I’ll be honest — I didn’t believe her until the artist himself agreed. I didn’t know you could print photos on canvases. This moment, then, is forever preserved as The Thing I Learned Today.

Clark — who goes by Bob — chatted warmly about his work for the show, titled "As I See Indiana.” He’s been printing his photographs, many of which were taken near his home in Crawfordsville, on canvas for about eight months and loves the rich colors and deep dimensions doing so produces. It’s the first time I’ve seen photographs this way and I have to say it really, really works. It sounds as though I’m about to burst into song, but the blues are bluer, the wheat more golden, the water more… reflecty. Hush. I can make up words if I want to.

Deeply committed to his subjects, Clark explains how he got some of his shots. For his photo of a Cooper’s Hawk, Clark waited 90 minutes for the bird to do something besides perch on a branch. The wait paid off — the bird fans its feathers and dangles a bright-yellow foot below a branch. It’s good that I’m not a photographer; I likely would have squealed in excitement and scared the bird away. I’d be willing to bet that “Don’t applaud from sheer joy” is one of the first lessons a photographer learns. Or I could be making more stuff up.

Clark’s exhibit is on display until the end of the month; call 317-490-0678 for gallery hours. He will also be at the Talbott Street Art Fair on Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, in Booth #2. In the meantime, check out Clark’s website.

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