Downtown Art

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September 26, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

The condo gallery

A group of residents at the 801 Washington Lofts pays homage to the artists who were originally displaced by the condo development in an art show inside the building. Some residents who don't have gallery backgrounds recognized the loft's potential as a viewing space, so they formed a committee and published a call for artists.

At first, they simply wanted to help represent artists who didn't have a regular gallery wall on which to exhibit their work, said Craig Kalscheur, who lives in a condo there and serves on the Aesthetics Committee.

To bounce the idea off others, they invited artists into the space to get their feedback. Some artists were reluctant to show their work at the condo since no other nearby condo was having art shows. Others worried about the security of their work.

However, many said the condo resembles a museum -- especially the walls that were inspired by streets (meant to be an area where condo owners sit and mingle). Its spaciousness offers plenty of opportunities for display and lighting.

Much to the committee's surprise, by the time the deadline rolled around, they'd received so many entries, they had to develop criteria for selection. They became impromptu curators. To narrow down the list, they voted for favorite pieces, although Kalscheur said there are still a lot of works they want to feature in other shows.

The works they chose are contemporary and reflect the modern design of the condo itself. Three artists -- David Bowman, Melissa Stang and Laura Stack -- will take one floor apiece and dress the walls with artwork. How they'll display their work is totally up to them. Although the committee insures these works up to $500, they won't take a cut of any sales.

Kalscheur said he hopes residents from other nearby condos will drop by. "I don't think any other condo around here is doing this," he said with enthusiasm.

The works to exhibit in this first show are eclectic. First, there's an absurd stillness in photographer David Bowman's snapshots, almost as if his subjects were stuffed by a taxidermist and then posed in a diorama. Bowman also shows a sensational palette. Misty shades of gray lead are punctuated by fluorescent colors such as construction-sign orange. He pictures the ordinary, such as cars, garages or people ordering food behind a counter.

In contrast, Melissa Stang teases science with illustration. For example, she places contour line drawings of a reptilian animal in a chart as it evolves, which she lays over a gradation of paint chips that you might pick up from any hardware store.

Laura Stack's paintings are abstract, while her drawings have the precision of horticultural sketches even when they're fantasized. Her pictures of "fruiting bodies" could be parts of flowers or planetary matter. Some could be seen as in the process of blooming or zooming through the stratosphere.

• Reception: Saturday, Oct. 1, 3-6 p.m. Show: thru Jan. 1, by appointment 801 Washington Ave. N. Free. 865-7445.