Arts » Visual Arts

New Year's Eve at Indy Indie

An encounter with some of the 68 artists at Indy Indie's "Dirty Fingernails" show


Taylor Dickens with "For the Bell Commands it." (To left)
  • Taylor Dickens with "For the Bell Commands it." (To left)

Just what was I doing at Indy Indie Artist Colony on New Year’s Eve? Gallery Director Bobbie Zaphirou wanted to have a New Year' Eve art celebration/exhibition rather than doing the same old First Friday thing. So I made it a point of being there. The exhibition, entitled Dirty Fingernails—like last January’s show—is an outgrowth of a show that hasn’t taken place at Indy Indie for several years. That is, Dirty Fingernails has roots in the old Art School Rejects show that displayed work that failed to get into the annual December Herron Undergraduate Exhibition. (And as I noted in my review that time around, a significant amount of the Rejects show was quite good.) 

Crowd at Indy Indie on New Year's Eve
  • Crowd at Indy Indie on New Year's Eve

Dirty Fingernails was curated by Aaron Booe, who had a modus operandi of letting in as much art from as many artists as possible—68 artists, altogether, including not just art school rejects but established artists like Emma Overman as well as artists just starting out, and even Herron profs like Lesley Baker. 

There was certainly some eye-catching ceramic work on display by the likes of Baker, Herron adjunct professor Rachel Bleil, and recent Herron graduate Danielle Pugel.

Bleil’s “Portrait Bear” is one of her “Teddymorphs,” achieved using a technique called “sgraffito.” That is, she scratched away designs on the two successive layers of slip, black and white, on the ceramic These designs on this particular bear include a skyful of black clouds.

Explains Bleil on her website: “My teddy characters, or Teddymorphs, are found in various states of transformation, suggesting the endless possibilities life can offer when we are open to our feelings and our intuitive understanding of the world.”

Portrait Bear by Rachel Bleil
  • Portrait Bear by Rachel Bleil

Danielle Pugel’s ceramic balloon entitled “House #9” features a painting of a house on it.

House #9 (Center Balloon) by Danielle Pugel
  • House #9 (Center Balloon) by Danielle Pugel

“In dreams, whatever building you’re in: that’s yourself,” she explained to me. And it’s fitting that Pugel, who’s applying to grad school and contemplating a move elsewhere, occasionally feels untethered in her dreams, like a house in the shape of a balloon floating away in the sky.

And then there’s the slyly subversive work of Lesley Baker, whose “Oh, Suburbia” is a decorative plate (She used a recycled plate to create this particular work). At first glance it might look like any old decorative plate, painted with a scene of suburban bliss, which you might use to decorate your mantle. But then you see the huge monster foot in the yard, one that might represent the manifold fears that any 21st century suburban house dweller might feel.  You may have even seen Baker's work enlarged, and placed on a billboard during the kickoff 2013-2014 round of the Arts Council of Indianapolis's High Art Billboard project. 
"Oh, Suburbia" by Lesley Baker
  • "Oh, Suburbia" by Lesley Baker

There was intriguing collage work by Kipp Normand incorporating an old map of French West Africa collaged in with a depiction of a bouquet of flowers and a severed hand. Alas, there’s no longer a political entity known as French West Africa. The French gave up that territory around the time they were forced, through violent insurrection, to give up Algeria, which the French considered their own soil. It was a loss of territory that Algerian-born Albert Camus felt as keenly as the loss of a limb—or a hand. Or at least it seems so, to me, in reading his books. 

Speaking of body parts: as in last year’s Dirty Fingernails exhibition, there was work that had a certain shock value. In the case Jacob Metzger’s “Why Fear Intimacy?” certainly takes the top prize. His work takes the form of two crocheted sculptural representations of penises. Or are they penis (and testicle) warmers for those very cold winter nights when underwear—or significant other—just isn’t enough?

Whatever the answer, the mixture of homespun and risque elements here is pretty thought-provoking.

"Why Fear Intimacy?" by Jacob Metzger
  • "Why Fear Intimacy?" by Jacob Metzger

Issues of sexuality of a perhaps more serious nature are addressed in the work of Taylor Dickens, a junior in the Herron printmaking department, who has a pair of mixed media works here that whet my appetite to see more from this young artist.

Check out his “For the Bell Commands it,” a fine example of printmaking complete with  a colorful depiction of a young man in a strange landscape that looks like it might have been one of Dr. Seuss’s dreams, with eyes blocked out by clumps of red yarn.

"For the Bell Commands it," by Taylor Dickens
  • "For the Bell Commands it," by Taylor Dickens

Dickens wrote me the following about his work over Facebook: “What would drive me as an artist would be the expression I can put into each piece, telling the viewer a little bit about me and the gay community (i.e. gender expression/identity and homosexuality) and the passion for the process of printmaking.”   

You have a chance not only to see this exhibition during an open viewing on Fri. January 15 from 12:00 p.m. -6 p.m.  Or call 317-500-2640 to make a private appointment with the gallery director.


This Week's Flyers

Around the Web