Hide, squeeze, skin: Reviews from First Friday Art Walk

Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010

H anging among the plush broad leaves and thin tendrils of living things at the Plant People on Seward Street is Rachael Juzeler's new series of mixed media sculpture titled "Hidden Work." Rusted, dying, charred, and frayed - the art emerges amidst the foliage just as ancient ruins of a previous civilization lay scattered throughout a remote, overgrown jungle.

Juzeler incorporates various recycled materials, combining wood, fibers, and fabrics in new and original forms and compositions. These elements are fused by wax and cut to emphasize the textures and surface of each individual component of her assemblages. Carefully encased in wood and preserved in glass, Juzeler's pieces are made from fibers, wire, wood and wax, both alone and in combination. "Stacked Blocks" is a darkened, charred collection of nine tightly wound bundles, cross-cut to show hundreds of layers of fibers, fabrics and parchment. The crusted and burnt coils are arranged three by three, and huddled together in stacked blocks of milky white wax. The lightest in color is the center coil, which stands apart from the others as thick folds of parchment bend and ripple around it, like a withered flower that died before its petals could reach sunlight. It's more touching to realize that much of the bound material is old drawings and fractions of artwork from Juzeler's past. Reworking these materials into a new stage of their natural entropy, Juzeler reflects not only the organic processes occurring between birth and death, but also reminds the viewer that the art we create will eventually be destroyed and begun again.

The Plant People, 224 Seward St. downtown, will display Juzeler's exhibition of "Hidden Work: A show of recycled art with wire, wood, wax, and wing nuts" through the month of February.

Further up the hill at the top of Main Street, the Juneau Douglas City Museum is currently displaying a series of works that fit into a 12x12 space, showcasing both 3-D and 2-D images of multiple varieties of media from various artists.

Adelie McMillan's "Change of Flowers" is a bright 3-dimensional arrangement of synthetic flowers mounted on fabrics and ribbons placed geometrically in a grid. The plastic flower blooms are placed on fabrics which mimic the fake flora with heightened colors and cheery printed patterns beneath.

Jane Stokes' painting "Neighborhood Patchwork I" shows a section of homes that dot the downtown Juneau hillside. Seemingly painted from a neighbor's kitchen or living room, the composition features familiar colors and angles of buildings, triggering that claustrophobic feeling of houses squeezed too close together, echoed by the size of the actual canvas.

Tom Cosgrove's "Mood Paper" dangles weightlessly in the northern corner of the gallery. The artist constructed an elegant mobile made from delicate strands of wood and white paper, with a thin band of silver circling the translucent box. Despite the controlled stipulation of staying within the 12x12 surface area, the vast expanse of media and creativity in the exhibition reiterates that these artists are in fact, thinking outside such a box.

The Juneau Douglas City Museum, located at Fourth and Main streets downtown, will show 12x12 through Feb. 27.

On Willoughby Avenue, at the Alaska State Museum, Annette Bellamy's solo exhibition is on the second floor gallery. The Halibut Cove artist works primarily in ceramics and stoneware, finding inspiration from living in coastal Alaska. Apart from her collection of stoneware and ceramics, "Home Economics" is an epic installation composed of fish skins woven and mounted in vertical asymmetrical strips. In a missive display which covers the entire back gallery wall the bright silver skins loom large in sharp angles above the viewer's head. As antiquated silver armor is mounted on a castle wall, these skins are displayed like gleaming beautiful weaponry hung proudly for visitors to both admire and fear. Contrastingly, the gentle patchwork mending of the metallic shimmering pieces of tissue are comforting in their carefully quilted aesthetic. Bellamy dovetails the hard and somewhat threatening aesthetic in the natural skin of the fish with a loving and meticulously quilted diary of meals enjoyed by those in her family and in her community.

The Alaska State Museum will display Bellamy's solo exhibit alongside Bill Brody's paintings, drawings and photographs through March 27. Earth, Fire and Fibre XXVII: Biennial statewide juried art and craft exhibit will be shown through April 3.

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