The exciting activities of Heavy Brow Gallery are a welcome addition to our historic town, and the levels of interest this small space generates are extraordinary. When you compare the non-profit, independent exhibition space to other venues in Chicago (The Suburban comes to mind) or New York, the most obvious distinction (if you define it as a distinction) is its size. Heavy Brow Gallery is no larger than an institutional powder room, with a sweet, old fashion staircase that connects an equally small upper floor.
With Heavy Brow Gallery, and the flexible mission of the Co-directors, Brandon Siscoe and Steve Linksvayer, the creative impulses of the artists, who are fortunate enough to display their works in this tiny gallery, posit questions about our world that are timely, but still irresolute; issues that are mysterious, yet sometimes profound; as the quintessence of any serious professional practice might be.
Brandon Siscoe and Steve Linksvayer, co-founders and directors of Heavy Brow Gallery
Steve Linksvayer lays out work for an installation
Making the distinction between the “brows”, of culture, a curious observer might arrive at some compromise in things that interest them in negotiating the vagaries of creative achievements. A “Middle Brow” protocol makes getting along socially much easier, with scripted interactions, conversational foreplay, and never crossing into experiential territories where the meat of thought and emotion live.
For some, a determined lethargy is their un-confessed imperative. They travel to the limits of their comfortable quarters, looking over as spectators into the uncomfortable realms of original thought… but for others, true creativity takes hold and new worlds are revealed, and eventually it becomes clear to anyone that a complete stasis of one mind, eventually limits all minds.
Brandon Siscoe talking to the artist L J Douglas about the installation prior to the gallery’s second show, Niche, works on paper by L J Douglas and Sarah Smelser
Artists live and think in the visual realm, and in their selfish practice, they are an important component to enlightenment within our culture. Artists, like scientists, authors, philosophers, and other practicing professionals, have the ability to direct thought through the introduction of ideas. Heavy Brow champions large ideas within the tiny, but vital physical space in historic Downtown Bloomington, Illinois. The corporal aspect of this gallery is only one component that makes the work shown within its walls so important. For many, there is a desire to gather around an enterprise that has certain physical limitations. There is an earnest sense of the need for co-operation and social interaction.
Reception for, Niche, works on paper by L J Douglas and Sarah Smelser. L to R, Steve Linksvayer (off camera), Sarah Smelser, Bill O’Donell (photographer), Brandon Siscoe, L J Douglas (foreground), Dennis French (goldsmith, master cabinet maker and photographer), and Alex Carlson (artist)
The second exhibition of Heavy Brow Gallery, Niche, works on paper by L J Douglas and Sarah Smelser, May 6-May 30, 2011, explores a collection of small, but powerful graphic images. The abstract images of these two artists establish a teasing dialogue with our sense of the unreliability of rational thought and skillfully wrought graphic remonstrations. The impish dissent so skillfully moiled away in these images takes forms that describe states of mind and rebellious patterns of the human gesture.
Sarah Smelser, Alter-native, 2011. Monotype, 9 X 10 inches
L J Douglas, Sea Within, 2010. Collograph, solar pate, chine colle, stencil, watercolor, drawing, 9.5 x 11 inches
These images are celebratory, firm, confident and clear. The colors ask the observer to relinquish pre-knowledge and expectations, prodding us to let go…to become unleashed and enter the seemingly impenetrable image where we can reside without any anticipation of a rationale for the manner and placement of marks. The marks and color of these works ricochet the immutable figures of nature, and the emotions that are shaped by it. There is a strong whimsical sense to the work, blithely referencing dominions of play or reprieve, where we stand for some fine moments luxuriating in this glorious visual passage.
Sarah Smelser, Mamba Wamba, 2011. Monotype, 7 X 8 inches
L J Douglas, Thistles, 2007. Watercolor, gouache, marker, with drawing transfers, 18 X 24 inches
L J Douglas, Anatomia (Liver ), 2010. Collage and marker on hand made paper, 9 x 13 inches
Sarah Smelser, Sure Footing, 2010. Monotype, 6 X 12 inches
Sarah Smelser, Chorus, 2010. Monotype, 7 X 8 inches
L J Douglas, Anatomia (Liver 6), 2010. Collage and marker on hand made paper,8 1/8 x 8 6/8 inches
A very fine review of the exhibition Niche by the painter Ron Jackson appears on FB
Many thanks to Manneken Press for publishing the work of Sarah Smelser and many others
Thanks to L J Douglas for the fine exhibition catalog that accompanies Niche
And many thanks to our dear friend John Brunetti, wherever you are...