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January 17, 2011
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
Tangerine dreams, orange alerts and ‘The Loudest Taste on Earth’

// Color-themed show at Altered Esthetics attempts to bring zest to a dreary January //

When you mount a monochrome-themed exhibition in the dead of winter, it’s best to choose a warm color. That’s obvious. But you probably want to steer clear of red. Too violent, too angry — and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, too prone to maudlin schmaltz and jealous fury.

Yellow’s out of the question, too.

“When we think of yellow in the winter, we tend to think of yellow snow,” says Amber Janey, incoming exhibition director at Altered Esthetics (AE).

So what does that leave? Orange, that warm (but not hot), tangy (but not mucous-related) hue sandwiched right in between red and yellow on the color wheel. It’s the theme of “Agents of Orange,” AE’s 2011 Resident Artist show — a once-a-year exhibition open to anyone who has ever shown in the Northeast gallery. Resident Artists shows tend to have a reunion vibe, rounding up the regulars to see what they’ve been up to. This year’s show features 22 of them. But only one color.

Janey, who’s curating “Agents of Orange,” envisions it as a nice break from AE’s typically heady, social issue-specific themes: last December’s jaundiced look at advertising and branding, or November’s investigation of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Essentially, it’s a free-association exercise. What does orange make you think of?

For nature photographer Michael McGraw, it’s crab apple trees, blurred to abstraction. Janey herself has snapshots of molten metal pours from the sculpture studio at University of Minnesota–Morris, where she did her undergrad work. The liquid metal glows in a near-white that is almost astronomical in the literal sense.

“The photos are interesting because they deal with found colors of orange, as opposed to created ones,” says Janey.

The show is mostly limited to painting and photography, which is somewhat disappointing. It’s also pretty light on conceptual wit, with artists leaning more toward straight takes on the color theme.

But Janey points out at least one political piece, a type of soldier portrait by Kim Berry, called “Untitled Orange.”

“When she heard the topic of the show, she thought of Agent Orange and the effect of war on families.”

There’s also Hannah Frick’s “The Loudest Taste on Earth,” an oil painting with a tantalizingly synesthesia-inducing title. Janey describes it as a “visceral reaction” to the citrus tones, with “lots of oranges and yellows and bright colors. And it’s huge.”

“Agents of Orange” runs through Jan. 27. An artist discussion, during which resident AE artists get together to discuss the show, professional endeavors and issues facing the artist community in general, goes down on Saturday, Jan. 15, 1–3 p.m.

Altered Esthetics  //  Q’arma Building  //  1224 Quincy St. NE  //  378-8888


FAME exhibition pairs disabled creatives with art world pros

FAME is back at Interact Gallery. The annual exhibition, named after the studio’s marquee Fine Arts Mentorship Experience program, pairs four Interact Studio artists — all talented creatives living with disabilities — with accomplished pros from the local art world. The collaborations are intense, take months to unfold and generally result in some of the most unique, small-gallery shows in town.

This year’s FAME is particularly momentous, as it features a collaboration with Yale-grad superstar Chris Larson, arguably the biggest name yet to participate in the mentor experience. Larson — often considered one of our most quintessentially “Minnesotan” artists, famous for crafting fantastical agrarian machines out of wood, ice-drenched rural cottages and shotgun-blasted sculpture — paired with Eric Sherarts, a 13-year Interact veteran. Sherarts worked in a state-of-the-art sculpture studio at the University of Minnesota, where he bent and braised metals to work through his pop culture obsessions, including his favorite wrestling heroes.

Other mentorships featured include St. Cloud State sculpture professor Alexa Horochowski with Jill Griffin, painting and drawing instructor Michael Garr with T.J. Neumiller and ceramacist Kelly Cox with Anna Halvorson.

An opening night party with food and music happens 6–9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21.

Interact Studio  //  212 3rd Ave. N., suite 140  //  1224 Quincy St. NE  //  339-5145