Art of the Eye II

ART OF THE EYE II, the Second Exhibition on Vision is a most unique experience. Premiering in 1986 at the Minnesota Museum of Art, Eye of the Art informs audiences of the artists’ perceptions of the world as only they can see it. This is an idea conceived by Minnesota artist and curator Scott Nelson. (ART OF THE EYE I is a collection of 52 pieces and is still touring and has been in 60 cities to date.)

Eye of the Art II is an intimate collection of 44 pieces by 10 artists from all around the United States, three of them from Minnesota. This is a collaborative effort by Target Foundation, St. Johns’ University, College of St. Benedict, Delta Gamma Foundation, VSA Arts Minnesota, Vision Loss Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Scott Nelson has put together an intriguing exhibit. There is great diversity of medium; pastel, oil, cloth, ceramic, photography, bronze and steel.

Here are a few highlights from the exhibit. Tara Arlene Inman is an artist from Minnesota who lives with infantile glaucoma. This leaves her with a vision of the world which is fluid, has no distinct lines, and causes auras to appear. During a year and a half, Tara painted the same view of the office waiting room. This is a telling documentary of her loss of vision. Her work is done in pastels and goes from light to shadow.

Artist Flo Fox lives with Multiple sclerosis. She has a camera strapped to the arm of her motorized wheelchair. She presses a rubber bulb with her teeth to open the shutter. Her works are reflections in water of various scenes. (This was a personal favorite of mine.)

Lynette Downey has total loss of sight. Among her four works exhibited, I fell in love with her bronze piece entitled Blind Mother. There are actually two statues. The mother is thin, strong and wrinkled. The babe in her arms (a totally separate piece, entwined in the mother’s loving arms) is smooth. To me, there is endurance in the mother; there is love for the child, and that love is not dependent on the ability of the mother to see. One feels that the mother knows her baby intimately.

Carmella Ganmello’s work is flamboyant and fun. Mr. Ganmello sees “floaters”. These are playfully put in his artwork. His work has wonderful movement in it. He has chosen some wonderful mediums to work with, including linocuts, print, ink on linen construction and painting construction.

Scott Nelson, a Minnesota artist, uses steel tripods in his work. Scott has 20/50 vision in both eyes and his field of vision is about 10 degrees. These stark works, to me, profoundly reflect the world Mr. Nelson sees.

Jon Leverentz is another Minnesota artist whose work is three-dimensional, and use of color is vibrant, outlined thickly in black. He reminds me of Gauguin. What is astounding about his work is that he portrays order and beauty even though he has double vision and tremors in his eyes. His use of acrylic on acrylic panels give one a sense of depth, while his use of thick outline forces an in-your-face point of view.

Don Pearson uses oil on large canvas to portray a depressingingly honest view of the world. I particularly enjoyed his painting of “Ophelia.” The vibrant, large lily pads that seem to engulf her, the beautifully detailed rich red brocade of her gown, her pale grayish skin eloquently come together in a visual statement of the tragedy that Shakespeare so eloquently put into words. What makes this work profound is that Mr. Pearson is never able to see his work in both detail and over-all at the same time.

Don Giirouard is a sculptor who uses both ceramic and bronze to create “birds” which are heavy and large. These are wonderful pieces to touch.

Patrick Farley is another sculptor who works in ceramic. Mr. Farley is an educator and curator who has created exhibits of art by artists with disabilities. His “Harlequin II” is a masterpiece of detail, which draws the viewer into the work. One wants to experience touching his work and going over every fine detail. Visually, it is impressive.

Artist Mary Solbrig uses diverse mediums in her work, ink on paper, mixed media, pastel on sandpaper, gouache, and watercolor, gouache. Her work present curious missing spaces, which reflects her vision of the world due to macular degeneration.

ART OF THE EYE II, is at St. John’s University Art Center in Collegeville, Mn., from March 12-April 30, 2000. It is a wonderful half-day trip that is well worth experiencing. Gallery Hours are 10am.-4pm. Monday-Sunday and 10am.-9pm. Thursdays.

Buses from the Twin Cities to Art of the Eye will leave:

* Thursday, April 13, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., from Vision Loss Resources, 1936 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. Cost $7. Call VLR, 612-871-2222, ext. 14.

* Saturday, April 29, – departing 9:30 a.m. from State Services for the Blind, 2200 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 9:45 a.m. from Vision Loss Resources, 1936 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; returning by 4:00 p.m. Cost $2. Call VSA arts of Minnesota, 612-332-3888, voice/TTY.