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Review: Blue Indy group show at the Harrison

Sponsored by Blue Indy Cars, this show is up at Harrison Center for the Arts

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clay sculpture "Mothering Seas" by Laura Levine
  • clay sculpture "Mothering Seas" by Laura Levine


Most of the artwork in the Harrison Gallery, entitled the Blue Indy group show, included at least some blue in the palette as a way of acknowledging its electric car sponsor.

This included a highly abstract acrylic painting by William Denton Ray entitled "Trinity" with its strange totemic figures. The shape of the central figure's head is triangular. Other aspects of these figures were more geometric than organic, as if, in utero, they had grown into fetuses by accumulating layers of silicon crystals. There's something similar going on in Ray's own process, which has a lot to do with accumulating layers of paint. Out of these layers the figures emerge, as if from a womb.

Picasso's Cubist influence was, perhaps, lurking in the DNA of this painting. Elsewhere in the gallery, there was a portrait of Picasso himself. "Les Femmes m'aiment" by Cathy Williams depicts the iconic artist in acrylic, ink and spray paint on canvas. It impressed me with its bold, vibrant colors. But the most striking thing about the painting is the subject's eyes, which seem captivated. Perhaps he's captivated by a passing object of his desire.

Equally captivating is Mary Lessing's painting "St. Vincent," depicting a dead-on Bill Murray in the guise of the movie character that Murray recently portrayed from the eponymous 2014 film. Murray is depicted holding a cigarette against a colorful backdrop akin to many stained glass motifs, as if he were wearing a halo. This oil-on-board composition also utilizes gold leaf, evoking the Eastern Orthodox tradition of icon-making.

The clay sculpture "Mothering Seas," by Laura Levine, is another kind of icon altogether. With its hundreds of arms emanating from her body, this sculpture serves as a reminder of the manifold ways that the seas nurture life on earth. It surely takes a lot of patience to make such a work of art.

In addition to patience, artists also require community support, a stable place to work and an audience as means of nourishment. The Harrison Center is a locus for all of these things. It's worth noting, as we transition into Trump, that nonprofits like the Harrison Center — and their sponsors like Blue Indy — might very well be playing a larger role in nourishing the arts if government support bleaches away like corals in the Great Barrier Reef under attack by climate change.

Harrison Center for the Arts through Dec. 30

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