VISUAL ARTS ‌ Re: Invention 

Redux studio users team up for a diverse showcase

Redux Contemporary Art Center's latest show, (Re)Orientation (ending Friday), provides a chance to find out how inspired Redux's current crop of studio users are. Anyone's welcome to apply to rent out space at the center, with smaller rooms costing $160 a month. Successful applicants get 24-hour access to the resources they need, and it's not unusual for artists to rent a space mainly to get access to the printing equipment or the darkroom.

So it's brave of Redux to devote gallery space for two weeks to what could have been a messy hodgepodge. Even the show's name suggests viewers are being reintroduced to the center's contents and identity.

Fortunately, some talented artists are using the studios at present, lending their creativity to a show that's eclectic yet low-key. Most of the artists have just one or two unframed pieces hung in the gallery space, while a couple use the walls and even the floor as their canvas.

Jessie Kendall is a good example of the solid work on view. She's been developing her figurative work with yellow, red, or brown-tinged nudes; for (Re)Orientation she's provided a "Double Self Portrait" using graphite on paper. Two faces oppose each other, but they're not identical — one's sleepy, the other's grumpy.

Familiar local names include Shelby Davis, whose multi-part "Resolution" depicts a hand slowly growing from stark grey rockite tiles, starting with a few bones and ending with a fleshed-out mitt. Oddly, the skeletal hand's more carefully defined than the final extremity.

Dorothy Netherland's paintings on glass have become neater and tighter over recent years. Here, two pieces flaunt board game backgrounds and '50s print ad figures in a colorful manner. Townsend Davidson has been expanding his passion for oppositional dimensions and wide open spaces; in "Flight of the Spanish Baghdad" a bird carries a mailbox over water, with a vast expanse of sky above and on the side of the canvas.

A few other pieces also make the show worth visiting. A diptych by Seth Curcio uses watercolor on paper to fine effect, with black and grey lines resembling crumpled paper, giving the artwork effective depth. Take a step back and twisted limbs emerge; from the other side of the room, viewers might see a face split across the two sheets of paper. Erik Johnson's "Amalgam: Triple Threat" is a sculpture that wouldn't look out of place in a fish tank, with forms that look like underwater plants and a sunken ship. It's too cluttered to work well, but its assorted elements (cast iron, bronze, wood, steel, aluminum, and enamel) make it a fascinating piece all the same.

While there's nothing breathtaking here, the breadth of media helps to show Redux's potential. The show's restrained but it's also surprisingly coherent — the artworks complement each other instead of clashing or detracting. So maybe that's the real message that Redux is trying to convey — that its artists can get along as they struggle away in their adjacent cubbyholes. As an imaginative double self portrait, (Re)Orientation serves as a good ad for the center, reflecting its role as both gallery and workspace.


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