Group invitationals typically don’t imply a shared theme or artistic concern, but the Clark County Rotunda’s current exhibit is so coherent, you’d swear the four artists colluded.
A logical thread can be drawn from one work to the next—from Emily Kennerk’s larger-than-life picnic table to Keith Conley’s satellite-dish/umbrella-top construction to Brent Sommerhauser’s reconfigured television antenna to Curtis M. Fairman’s fiber-filled tube socks. But are the artists really on the same wavelength? Somewhat, in that they all relate to pop art in its embrace of mass-produced urban objects.
Kennerk focuses on suburbia. In her 2007 exhibition SuburbanNation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, familiar home elements like sidings, porches and awnings became strange and beautiful when reconfigured and isolated. In this exhibit, her velvety-black picnic table, cut off at a rakish angle and upended, forms a stunning dynamic silhouette. John Updike, who also chronicled suburbia, once said, “Give the mundane its beautiful due.”
Conley also gives the mundane its due. He constructed his untitled piece with “real” materials, such as PVC tubing and green plastic wrap. Using 3-D imaging software, he conflates different objects into an amalgam of what he sees as “form for the sake of form.”
In Sommerhauser’s hands, forms take on existential meaning, and an ordinary object can become wistful. “Warp,” his reconfigured and bent television antenna with suggestions of a ribbed human torso, seems conscious of its path to obsolescence but suggests it still aims for the stars.
Fairman’s soft sculpture is playful in the tradition of pop and dada. His anthropomorphically titled “The Grand Guignol of Seraph & The Cherubim” marries angels with French marionette theater, but the assemblages of gleaming white socks, though reminiscent of hand puppets, more strongly suggest sea anemones, where a watery-depth effect is achieved by placing them on a mirror.
Though their temperamental differences range from cool and ironic to warm and earnest, all four artists share a love of play and an irreverence. By building on the same traditions, they have all produced objects that reflect their personalities.