By Peter TonguetteFor The Columbus Dispatch
In the central Ohio visual-arts scene, some exhibits are small and focused, centering on an individual artist or a single style.
Others are wide and varied, presenting an array of artists and an assortment of approaches.
From a visitor's perspective, it's the difference between browsing at a boutique or spending an afternoon in a big-box store.
Belonging decidedly in the second category is an expansive new exhibit at the Riffe Gallery.
For the Downtown venue's 2017 Biennial Juried Exhibition — devoted to works created by Ohio residents — jurors Larry Collins, Janice Driesbach and Daniel Hernandez evaluated more than 300 proposals. They picked a potpourri of pieces — a total of 58, including paintings, sculptures and photographs — united only in their vividness and variety.
Highlights include Jessica Summers’ oil-on-canvas “The Watchman,” which presents a paean to domestic life. Using a wide-angle “fisheye” perspective, the artist painted a small dog peeking into the doorway leading to the bedroom of a napping infant; the pet seems to be checking on the new addition to the family — a diligent watchman.
Appealingly low-key, too, are Michelle BonDurant’s oil painting “Neighbor’s Garage,” presenting a snow-covered garage as seen from a third-floor window; and Meili Corbin’s graphite-on-paper “Gaze,” in which two children press their hands and faces against a translucent surface, eagerly looking inside.
Other works have a more explosive impact, including Timothy Gaewsky’s acrylic-and-latex-house-paint-on-wood “Undiscovered Horizon,” which owes something to the artist Peter Max in its bold depiction of a kind of Candyland, with lollipop swirls dotting the sky and candy canes bobbing in the water. Andrew Ina’s acrylic-on-canvas “Sign of the Times” presents diamond-shaped yellow signs — like those encountered on roads — arranged neatly over a messy black-and-blue background.
Among the sculptures in the show, April Deacon’s “Idol of Worship: Greed” — crafted with clay, gouache, automotive enamel and found objects — stands out for its striking strangeness. A large, glum-faced bird sits in a cage while eating a small bird (still visible in its beak). Adding to the work’s bizarreness are the humanlike legs and feet (complete with pink socks and gold shoes) that emerge from the larger bird’s lower body.
Equally eccentric is Michaela de Vivero’s “Limbs,” featuring a series of malformed branches, or limbs, hanging from above. The crocheted copper wire gives the work an industrial flavor, but the odd, unpredictable shapes of the limbs suggest organic matter. Meanwhile, Hallie Scheufler’s “Reconstructed Spoon” consists of a spoon into which the word “Yuck!” has been cut out; positioned beneath the spoon is a second spoon onto which the word is reflected.
Notable photographs include Tom Croce’s “Hibiscus,” a close-up black-and-white view of the flower; and Charles Mintz’s “Rodeo Hardware,” a panoramic color view of a jam-packed hardware store.
The making of art is extolled in Leslie Adams’ charcoal-and-white-chalk-on-paper “The Art of Life,” a self-portrait in which the artist poses beside an easel, a jar of brushes and assorted art-related printed matter.
The piece reflects the energy and industriousness throughout the show.
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