Sunday, May 15, 2011

Twist Art Gallery shares Lauren Krusso's pretty flowers

Twist Art Gallery shares Lauren Krusso's pretty flowers
12:35 PM, May. 12, 2011

An installation view of Lauren Kussro's A Joyous Outpouring, on view at Twist Art Gallery through May 28. SUBMITTED

Written by
MiChelle Jones | For The Tennessean
Entertainment Arts & Culture
If You Go

What: A Joyous Outpouring, new sculptural and cut-paper works by Lauren Kussro
Where: Twist Art Gallery, Arcade #73
When: Through May 28
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Admission: Free
Contact: 1-888-535-5286 or

Friday afternoon in the Arcade, less than 36 hours before the First Saturday Art Crawl, the upstairs gallery spaces were abuzz with activity. Walls were being painted, work was being hung, labels affixed. At Twist Art Gallery, Lauren Kussro was painting a wall in preparation for A Joyous Outpouring, on view through May 28, her third exhibition at the gallery.

Her previous shows were called The Luminous Bower and Handful of Tranquility, similarly expressive titles reflecting Kussro’s exploration of beauty and the aesthetics of her singular combination of printmaking and sculpture.

Kussro also likes to counter what she sees as a trend in contemporary art of downplaying the relevance of beauty. Quoting a Thomas Moore essay, she talks of the necessity of nurturing the human soul.

“My work has always been about beauty,” Kussro explains. “I think it’s necessary for beauty to exist. … I feel like it’s my responsibility as an artist to use my gifts to benefit others.”

Beauty in bloom

An overwhelming sense of beauty emanates from a floating garden of 10 handmade flower sculptures suspended in one corner of the gallery. In combinations of cream and deep red, purple and teal, orange and red, blue and white, each flower sits on its own bed of leaves.

These lotus-like flowers (they are of an indeterminate species, from Kussro’s imagination) follow a process similar to the one Kussro uses to create the four lit wall pieces placed around the gallery’s walls.

She starts with a cotton rag paper, a change from the handmade paper she used in her previous work. First, she prints both sides of the paper in a solid color (a different one per side), then prints swirls and loosely based organic shapes on top of the base color. Next, she coats the paper with wax before cutting it into shapes.

Rather than create each piece from bespoke parts, Kussro mixes and matches as she goes along, pulling petals and leaves from her cache of components.

The wall pieces are built around armatures made of oval wood frames covered in paper like pith helmets. Layers of petals and leaves are attached and a compact fluorescent bulb used to light the piece from the underside.

Negative beauty

Kussro also explores the negative side of beauty in A Joyous Outpouring in that she was inspired by the negative spaces and pieces left from where she cut shapes for her sculptural work.

“I was throwing away all these beautiful scraps, so I started saving them all,” she says. She began repurposing them in small, colorful resin-covered collages, or cut out even smaller leaf shapes in various green hues and applied them to gauzy fabric stretched over plywood frames.

Several of these hang in the windows of Twist, onto which Kussro screen-printed still more leaves. Three long paper panels cover the ceiling like banners, forming a lush canopy of green and brown vegetation, also screen-printed.

Three long panels hang in front of a sunny yellow wall in Twist’s inner gallery. Kussro hand-cut the intricate design of swirls and leaves spreading across the paper, working without sketches except to map out a rough suggestion of pattern when she moved from the initial center panel to the outer two.

Again, inspiration came from remnants of her other work.

When she last showed the piece in Indiana, where she lives, she put it in front a white wall to play up the shadows cast by the cutouts. Then, the white paper blended in with the white backdrop; for Twist’s presentation, she wanted to use the contrast of a different wall color.

“I really liked the negative shapes I was making … so I thought, why not just do a piece that was just cutting and that’s it?”

The elegantly simple result is far more complex than that.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May's First Saturday exhibits offer shelter from the storms

May's First Saturday exhibits offer shelter from the storms
Crawl Space
Nashville Scene

Writing this to a chorus of tornado warning sirens, I'm struck by how the May Art Crawl contrasts the windy, wet weather we've seen during these turbulent birth pangs of summer. May's First Saturday events are concerned with calm and comfort, finding galleries filled with cozy craftings, soothing sounds, good causes and simple beauty.

At 79 Arcade, Blend Studio opens an installation by Tiffany Dyer. Fortress explores ideas of home and security with a gallery-spanning environment fashioned from abandoned afghans and other crocheted items. Dyer will have small soft-sculpture houses for sale with proceeds benefiting Safe Haven Family Shelter, but the star of the show will be the installation itself, which promises "an experience of childhood memories and adult fantasies."

Street Crossings is an exhibit of new multimedia works by Joshua Penrose that will be making a noise at COOP Gallery at 75 Arcade this month. Penrose has a background in piano, percussion, composition and electronic music, and his COOP installation can be thought of as a duet between the surging sounds of traffic at a changing streetlight and the playful, electronic tones and phrases that Penrose superimposes upon this too-familiar music of the city. By decorating everyday sounds, Penrose draws attention to the intricate textures and vibrant dynamics of the seemingly mundane.

Twist Gallery at 73 Arcade will be hosting a new exhibit by Lauren Kussro, whose show is simply about beauty and its capacity to move us to yearning and delight. A Joyous Outpouring finds the artist creating multimedia objects that incorporate printmaking, sewing, sculpture and paper crafts in her colorful, organic assemblages. Her strongest pieces are illuminated affairs that glow with an abiding presence. At 77 Arcade, Twist Etc. hosts New York-based Canadian artist Jason Paradis. Gallery-goers may recall Paradis' show at Seed Space in 2010: The artist's installations are preoccupied with time as well as space, and his work acknowledges that even our deepest existential understandings are wrapped in a vast mystery.

The Froelich Gallery at 83 Arcade will feature Berlin, a series of striking photographs by Hunter Armistead. Armistead spent a year living in the German capital, and this is the first time he's shown his work from that period.

On Fifth Avenue, Tinney Contemporary sticks with their April exhibit Stealing Stories: New Works by Patricia Bellan-Gillen. Stealing finds Bellan-Gillen bringing meticulous detailing to the zoological illustrations that populate her dreamscape panels. Rymer Gallery will also hold over What We Carry, a show of Luke Hillestad's figurative canvases featuring narratives of birth, kinship, ritual and healing.

Down the block at The Arts Company, The Intimate World of Leonard Piha is an expansive show that sprawls across much of the gallery's large upstairs space. It's easy to mistake Piha for an outsider artist when discovering his religious, personal work. He paints on wood and cardboard and also fashions sculptures from rough, ordinary materials. In fact, Piha took his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and we are waiting for Saturday to see if Piha's work plays the fool or plays for keeps. In addition, Slow Road to China — Drew Doggett's documentary photos of the Land of the Dragon — remains from last month.

Be sure to wander your way up Broadway to the Tennessee Art League for the 46th Annual Central South Art Exhibition. The CSAE is one of the oldest and most prestigious art competitions in the country, and it's the TAL's founding event. This year 419 works by artists from 26 states competed for 60 cash prizes. Saturday's opening will include an early awards presentation at 5 p.m., culminating with the Best in Show prize for Bill Bailey's lovely, light-filled watercolor painting "Humphrey's Mill."

Back at 44 Arcade, Mir Gallery founder/curator Miranda Herrick will be putting her own work on display in an eco-conscious show that resonates with the new frugality informing these money-lean times. Reduced, Reused, Recycled: Visual Art from the Recycling Bin features quilt-like tapestries, crocheted rugs, and crafted aluminum mandalas fashioned from grocery bags, candy wrappers, cereal boxes and beer cans. This will be the last show for Mir Gallery, and the May exhibit anticipates Herrick's rededication to her own creative projects. Since Mir debuted in 2008, highlights at the space have included a number of memorable print and pop-art inspired exhibits, and we hope it will be replaced by another art venue with an equally thoughtful curator. We already know of one new venue that will likely join the First Saturday fray in June, but that will have to wait until next month.

Crawl on, crawlers!