Tag Archives: Watercolor

In Norcross: Open Exhibition at Kudzu Art Zone

As we have bragged before, we are not afraid to leave the vibrant tumult of the urban core to find art in the metro’s extremities. We devote today’s blog to a visit to Norcross and its gallery/studio space called Kudzu Art Zone.

The Zone currently hosts a juried exhibition that was open to all Georgia artists. Professor Craig Dongoski of Georgia State University, a multimedia artist, served as juror for the open competition.

Openness can be wild and chaotic. Judging by the work selected for exhibition, Dongoski must have been overwhelmed with flower power in the work submitted. There are lots of studies of flowers and fruits on display. Does everyone who thinks of Norcross think of agriculture, wild plants on the borders of pasture land, or the flowered surface of swamp ponds?

What caught Dongoski’s eye as meriting awards were mostly not flowers or even landscapes, but dreams.

The blue ribbon went to Ed McGrath’s painting titled “Whaling Town.” The style resembles that of Mattie Lou O’Kelley, with its compressed perspective, and numerous routine events occurring all at once in miniature and rudimentary forms.

Ed McGrath, painter of "Whaling Town"

Ed McGrath, painter of “Whaling Town”

Mr. McGrath was present at the Zone when we visited, and he requested that his work not be photographed. He said his wife had urged him to make the painting, and it was a gift to her, and she did not want it to be photographed. He said he has made many more pictures in the same style and has never shown them publicly.

The red ribbon was awarded to Don Dougan for his three-dimensional work, “Verdigris Dream: Two Natures.” Dougan’s representation of eery feelings that lurk beneath a soothing surface has the power to haunt, and also the power to amuse with its silly collection of found symbols.

"Verdigris Dream: Two Natures," by Don Dougan, 12.5 x 30 x 4, Mixed media, copper, found objects

“Verdigris Dream: Two Natures,” by Don Dougan, 12.5 x 30 x 4, Mixed media, copper, found objects

The white ribbon was awarded to an artist identified as Vision Bear for the painting titled “Ocelotl Dream.” This work is packed with imagery suggestive of dream-journeying and ritual objects, its colors pulsing with heat and alchemy.

"Ocelotl Dream," by Vision Bear, acrylic on canvas

“Ocelotl Dream,” by Vision Bear, 20 x 16, acrylic on canvas

Several honorable mentions were awarded. Here is a tip of the hat to one of the fans of flora, Mary Jane Warren Stone.

"Water Garden," by Mary Jane Warren Stone, watercolor

“Water Garden,” by Mary Jane Warren Stone, 34 x 48, watercolor

Kudzu Art Zone’s Open Juried Exhibition is on display through July 19, 2014.

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Grown-Up Toys: John Tindel’s Works on Paper at Kai Lin Art

Some little boys like dangerous little toys: pocket knives, matches, homemade explosives. Toy guns sometimes offend, but they inflict no damage. A really dangerous toy can poke out your eye. The little boy knows this but thinks, “A little pain is worth it to be able to watch the progress of a good puncture. Besides, who needs two eyes when one will do?”

"Blame it on My A.D.D.," John Tindel; pencil, spray paint and watercolor; 18 x 18 inches.

“Blame it on My A.D.D.,” John Tindel; pencil, spray paint and watercolor; 18 x 18 inches.

When the danger-boy grows up he may become an artist like John Tindel, who is now showing mixed media works on paper at the Kai Lin Art gallery. The pictures have sharp edges, suggest troublesome thoughts, and interfere with productive activity. Some pieces use a form of caricature to depict young men who were probably also danger-boys, but who seem to have traded in their illegal fireworks for that adult toy called hard drugs.

Tindel’s pictures sometimes deploy words within the frame, and they usually bear interesting titles (for example, “My First Skull.”) None of Tindel’s words make explicit reference to methamphetamine, but plenty of implications appear, such as pictures of crystals forming out of clouds, and one danger-boy picture being titled, “Blame it on My A.D.D.” (Atlanta Art Blog doesn’t know much about methamphetamine, but the Wikipedia article on that drug says that a form of it is sometimes prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Slang names for the drug include “cloud,” and “crystal meth.”)

"Flower Pot Setting #2," John Tindel; watercolor; 18 x 24 inches.

“Flower Pot Setting #2,” John Tindel; watercolor; 18 x 24 inches.

The pictures don’t give the sense of glorifying drug use, or suggesting that the use of methamphetamine could inspire artistic work, spiritual revelation, or anything positive. The danger-boys, and one danger-girl (titled “She Was a Hallucination”) have wide-set, large eyes that suggest a capacity for deep thought, but are surrounded by prematurely aged and discolored skin. These are the eyes of young people exhausted by life at compulsive hyper-speed. Hope for them is in peril.

One sharp edge to these pictures is that most of them carry the hand-lettered message, “You Make Me Feel Special.” The works also include some lush watercolors of floral arrangements with no references to danger-boys or crystals and clouds—these florals, too, carry the lettering, “You Make Me Feel Special.” It’s almost as if Tindel is in the middle of sketching out a line of greeting cards to be marketed to addicts and their friends and families. That market had better love irony.

The pictures include visual references to African masks, Shamanic power animals, and holy men. It’s another trait of the danger-boy to mix up a bunch of flavors and see if the final product is edible. In fact, Mr. Tindel displays in these pictures how adept he is at creating unusual combinations. They may begin carelessly but they end by showing that the danger-boy is someone curious about mortality, and someone who fits in with his nervous friends and family.

The John Tindel exhibit, “You Make Me Feel Special,” is on view at Kai Lin Art through September 6, 2013.