Visual Art Exhibition
Uncovers Shreveport’s best and brightest
The variety of artistic styles in Shreveport Regional Art Council’s Critical Mass 8 was gratifying. Although there were nods in technique, form and aesthetic to iconic artists like Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Gustav Klimt, there was still something unique that certain artists contributed to make their artworks stand out from the rest. There were abstract, formal and modern paintings, sculpture and photography such as “PolyBarracks,” by Jacorrian Jackson, a discreet sculpture nestled in the corner of the exhibition space that depicts abstract shapes melded into one another, and “Spirit Tree: Cries of My Ancestors” by Debra Roberson, a photograph of a stoic tree with a noose affixed to the exterior of the picture frame, two exceptional works; both were well-executed and deserving of recognition. While there were many styles of art in the exhibition, there was one work that caught my eye from across the room. Compared to other big and bold artworks, this relatively small portrait showcases the skill and talent of an artist with a lot more to give.
The artwork chosen for Best in Show has many qualities that allow it to emerge as the most engaging. The composition is so striking that it invites observation from afar. When approaching it, the details hold your attention and summon you to interact intimately. It isn’t certain whether the subject depicted in this portrait of the back of the head is a woman or man, creating an appealing ambiguity. The atmosphere of the sky, changing leaves and trees blowing in the wind that surrounds the subject allow us to get a good sense of the outlook they are experiencing. We can see, along with them, the miraculous object of their contemplation – a beautiful autumn sky at dusk. The scene itself is enchanting and we can imagine that the subject is just as entranced by the scene as viewers are with this painting.
The formal qualities of Joe Bluhm’s “Berndt” are just as appealing as the conceptual ones. The realistic depiction of the back of the subject’s head with loose hairs blowing in the wind shows keen technique and careful rendering. This close attention to detail allows the viewer to feel as though they are in the scene, standing right behind the subject as we both look at the dusk-time sky. The rich colors allude to the weather of the season. Though the subject is still, the leaves blow in the wind as they fall from the trees. The light and shadows in the clouds allude to their movement in the sky. The setting sun, not present in the painting, glows and warms the mind’s eye. The impressionistic nature of the trees alludes to their whisking in the wind. While the subject is still, everything around them is moving. Conceptually, the artist decided to paint a scene we all have seen before. The artist captures this fleeting moment so we can hold on to it longer.
The painting could be interpreted as a solitary and solemn scene of the loss of summer as the new season approaches, but the choices the artist makes to involve the viewer gives us the feeling that the subject is witnessing this autumn dusk-time sky with all of us.