BoxHeart casts wide net for exhibit

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BoxHeart casts wide net for exhibit

By Kurt Shaw
TRIBUNE-REVIEW ART CRITIC
Sunday, January 21, 2007

If the miniature mummy in the window doesn’t grab your attention, then the massive sculpture made of 1,118 wood chips in the middle of BoxHeart Expressions gallery in Bloomfield most certainly will.

The wood-chip sculpture is by Bruce Sykes, who lives near Indiana, Pa., but the mummy is by Alberto Almarza, of Chile. They are just two of 22 artists from 10 countries chosen for inclusion in BoxHeart’s sixth annual exhibition, “Art Inter/National: Here and Abroad.”

Having been included in more than a dozen Web site listings of exhibition opportunities for artists from all over the world, this iteration of the international competition netted entries by 77 artists from around the globe, more than ever before.

But quantity doesn’t equal quality, says Josh Hogan and Nicole Capozzi, co-owners of BoxHeart Expressions. So this year, even though three more countries are represented than last year, there are fewer works by fewer artists.

The reason is simple, Capozzi says: “We just try to pick the works that we think will make the best show. There are some entries that are great, but they just don’t fit with the other things that we selected based on certain themes.”

Although there is not one overriding theme to the exhibition, it is a cohesive show with works seeming to flow from one to the other, either stylistically or thematically. Even the works in the window — such as the aforementioned mummy, as unusual as it is — don’t seem out of place flanked by watercolor and charcoal portraits of gaunt prepubescent children by Ohio artist Diane Fleisch-Hughes.

This is a juried exhibition, however, with the best-of-show winner being awarded a solo exhibit that follows the next “Art Inter/National.” Which means that next month, visitors to the gallery will find on display the work of German artist Petra Voegtle, last year’s best-of-show winner.

This year’s winner is New York fiber artist Elin Waterston, who is represented here in three small quilts that combine imagery of birds and butterflies with various fabric swatches and quilting techniques.

Voegtle is represented in this show, too. Also a fiber artist, she shows in two silk paintings from her “Magic Landscape” series how magic exists and surrounds us everywhere. Through the delicate representation of desert and cave, respectively, “Dryland” and “Underworld” give the impression that every space is sacred, fragile and delicate.

Voegtle is not the only previous winner included in the exhibition. Reinhardt Sobye, of Norway, was last year’s first-place winner. Two large-scale digital prints — “Dreamscape I” and “Dreamscape II” — show how living among Norwegian fjords, which are scarcely populated, increases the feeling of an approaching apocalyptic future. Both combine dramatic landscape photographs with ethereal villages superimposed on them — in essence, depicting the human footprint in diabolical opposition to the Earth’s natural beauty.

Whereas Sobye presents man’s advancement at the cost of ecological devastation, Russian artist Victoria Goro-Rapoport prefers to deal with man’s desire to build utopia, particularly as it fits within the context of the failed utopian vision that was communist Russia. Classically themed, her two large-scale etchings on display here — “Sinking of the Empire” and “Stepping Out” — combine architectural renderings and classical representations of the human figure into idealistic yet self-destructive models of work and progress.

Not all of the artists in the exhibition harbor such worldly views. Looking inward, Philadelphia artist Gerard DiFalco focuses on the inner self, particularly as it relates to the field of phenomenology.

DiFalco suffers from RSDS, a disturbance in the sympathetic nervous system that affects the hands and feet. Thus, in his four-paneled mixed-media piece “The Seasons of the Minotaur,” he depicts himself as a minotaur suffering from different forces yet striving to maintain balance, particularly as it relates to the visual versus the conceptual and the physical in contrast to the cerebral. In essence, using his own art is a form of healing, orchestrating both the left and right hemispheres of the brain in the process of creation.

Not all works are as deep. Italian artist Franco Meloni’s vibrant acrylic painting “Estia” depicts a jester-like character in expressive color; Ohio artist Dan Gerdeman’s two small comical paintings, “Imprint: Gordon Light Foot” and “Remember to Remember Me,” present a lighthearted look at life in a large family; and Christiane Middendorf’s three abstract paintings, “Bird,” “Bassisstation” and “Samenkorn I,” reflect the golden glow of her vibrant native city of Berlin.

All in all, this show is a tour de force of international talent and a welcomed addition to a city that already boasts one of the world’s most well-respected international art exhibitions, the triennial Carnegie International. At least with this exhibition, locals get to see international art once a year. But you’d better be quick, since the show will end Feb. 3.

Kurt Shaw can be reached at kshaw@tribweb.com.

Click Here For The Original Article Oniline.

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