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Review: Kyle Ragsdale's INsignificant

Don't miss the monotype prints and charcoal drawings overflowing out of the main gallery into the hall.



The mega-exhibit (87 works in all) of Kyle Ragsdale's most recent work includes charcoal on paper drawings as well as prints in addition to a large selection of paintings. The paintings, per the title, push for the significance of Indiana history, based as they are on historical photos of people and places in Indiana.

Ragsdale's signature style reigns here. Many paintings involve highly abstracted figures backed up against — or occasionally dissolving into their — colorfully expressive backgrounds. "Asbury before the Fire" depicts a group of students in front of Greencastle's Asbury College (now DePauw) building glowing as pink as a sunset. Perhaps the glow is foreshadowing its eventual immolation. "General of SoBro" depicts characters in Revolutionary War frock coats in bicorne hats. Half of them are depicted upside down, defying gravity.

You too might feel more upside down than right side up after cruising the bars of South Broad Ripple.

Clearly, Ragsdale has also cruised the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Aficionados want to check out the painting entitled "Writer's Ex-Wife," an expressionistic riff on a prominently displayed painting at the IMA: "Louise Fletcher" by Mary S. Blumenschein, painted in 1912.

In "Judge and Jury" however, the color palette is dampened down and thus the overall tone of the painting is more solemn than many of the pieces here (similar in tone to, say, Jamie Wyeth's "Meteor Shower.") The portrayed seem to be all serious men, perhaps en route to or back from war. It appears that they have a very serious decision to make about one of their fellow soldiers. But the background is faded like an old photograph and the features of the men depicted are likewise indistinct. Do we see the past as something that is irretrievable and far gone or do we see the past through rose-colored glasses?

Don't miss the monotype prints and charcoal drawings overflowing out of the main gallery into the hall. The charcoal drawing "Planter" depicts a number of head portraits of women who are all gazing down demurely. "Dreams" is a beautiful, simply drawn portrayal of a woman in profile. I took a liking to this less flashy, more down-to-earth work

Harrison Center for the Arts through Nov. 23


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