To Go Under

In 5 Submerging, committed artists show the depths of their practice

The phrase "to experience art" has its origins in the teachings of John Dewey. He wrote that art could evoke simultaneous intellectual and emotional responses—art is not "seen" like an object on the street, but "felt" and "told."

5 Submerging, a show hanging at the Exhibit Space at La Tienda in Eldorado, is full of motion characterized by a masterfully contrasting cohesion. A chaotic cluster of red ribbons, coated in beeswax, springs aggressively from the north wall; paving stones engraved with lettering carry you in the opposite direction toward intensely detailed landscape paintings, whimsical object art and intensely emotive self-portraits.

Thayer Carter has focused his work on landscapes. His oil-on-canvas pieces and living-room-wall-sized woodcuts read as portraits of places he clearly knows intimately.

Andrew Davis also works with a variety of media, yet the central component of his work is language—poetry, lettering, that unique experience of associating a word with a 'thing,' of knowing what a something is called. I can't claim to know much about poetry myself, but a short collection of his writings, left with me for research, reveals an understated sense of the art of language.

The self-portraits by Geraldine Fiskus are an homage to human emotion. From her series painted in the aftermath of 9/11—dark shades speaking to the obstructive power of grief—to her later work studying the serenity of expression in meditation, each piece tells the story of an individual moving through the fears, hopes, satisfactions and tribulations of living.

Dee Homans' work appears to be based on a different method of expression, her tangle sculptures transitioning between playful and abrasive, while J Barry Zeiger's pieces create a context for ideas using impetuous arrangements of found objects. A Buddhist convert, Zeiger focuses much of his work on subtle parodies of our obsession with material attachment. "We give such importance to things, while they just keep dissolving," he says.

The ability to divine the essence of each subject is not necessarily the objective of this exhibit. If it were, each piece likely would have been molded to a theme. Instead, five friends created a collective body of work, strikingly varied in composition and style, and tied together later under a single name.

Webster's will give you a number of definitions for "submerging," but the most eloquent I found was "to go under, as if under water."

At first, the exhibition title was sort of a joke, a play on the cultural obsession with "emerging artists," Zeiger says. Walking me through the exhibit on a recent afternoon, he says he wasn't even sure he liked the name, but it has grown on him, and in a strange way, it seems entirely fitting. He and his friends have reached that point in their careers where they have long since abandoned ambitions of fame and fortune, he says.

The freedom to 'go deeper' into their individual work has become the reason for creating art. It is the submergence that brings the exhibit together as an "experience," felt and told through the depth of intention.

Santa Fe Reporter

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