Picks :: Sketch work as artwork

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December 6, 2010
By: John Grimley
John Grimley
// Form+Content’s Sketch Work exhibition reveals the art of drawing drafts //


This holiday season, if you are tired of watching Scrooge yell, the Minnesota Vikings lose or your family argue, an art gallery is the perfect getaway. If you need a peaceful place to pop in for a couple hours of quiet contemplation, Form+Content is what you’re looking for.

The gallery is designed to “nurture diverse artistic practice and thoughtful dialogue.” Formed in 2006 by a group of practicing Minnesota artists, it opened to the public in 2007.

“We made it our goal at the very beginning that we wanted to really engage the community in the Twin Cities,” said Howard Oransky, a member of Form+Content.

This December and January the gallery will feature a free exhibition based on the concept of sketches, which most people dismiss as first drafts. Sketch Work is an exhibition curated by Christopher Atkins, coordinator of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program at the Institute of Arts.

The exhibition will feature the work of nine members of the Form+Content gallery as well as six guest artists. All artists in the exhibit are from Minnesota and their backgrounds range from architecture to set designs. Oransky said the artists were picked because their pieces reflected a key concept of the exhibition, the idea of “drawing as a sort of spontaneous and expressive tool that artists use to lay out their ideas.”

The idea was to reconsider what a sketch could be. As Atkins explains in his artistic statement, he had the artists re-imagine sketches, “by asking them to think about sketching in new terms. If we set aside the trope of the artist’s sketchbook and that sketches only come before a finished drawing, we can see sketches as artworks that are still developing.”  

“The gallery felt strongly that we didn’t want to put any limitations on the gallery,” Oransky said. “We wanted it to be wide open and expansive as to how the artist defines drawing in their own practice.”

That leads to many different interpretations of the term “sketch.” The pieces deal with a wide variety of mediums, including graphite and scrimshaw, and the artists had free reign. As Jim Dryden, a founding member of Form+Content Gallery, said in his artist statement, “Art is about connecting. It connects us to our past and future, to our families and community, and opens us up to possibility and opportunity.”

“Take Jay Isenberg for example,” Oransky said. “He’s a practicing architect. He uses diagrams and maps and all kinds of material that you normally wouldn’t think of as art.”

Other unique pieces include Kenneth Steinbach’s “Wabigoon Islands,” which is Scrimshaw on used piano key ivory and Luke Aleckson’s “Business Ends 4,” which combines plastic, wood, polyurethane foam and latex.

The gallery has an opening reception on Dec. 16 from 7–9 pm. The opening is free and open to the public. If you can’t make it, the exhibition will be on display every Thursday through Saturday from noon–6 p.m. through Jan. 22. Admission is free.

The Form+Content Gallery is in the Whitney Square Building, 210 N. 2nd St. Suite 104.