Sunday, August 2, 2009

Columbus Dispatch Review

The Ohio State Fair means livestock exhibits, concerts, corn on the cob, the butter cow or the Ferris wheel.

The Fine Arts Exhibition is a microcosm of the experience.

Through myriad works by professionals and amateurs, fairgoers savor the diverse creativity of Ohio artists. The densely packed show this year in the Cox Fine Arts Center features more than 200 works.

Wading through hundreds of entries to narrow their selections to those of exceptional quality were the jurors: Iduna Bohning, an art administrator from Dresden, Germany; Rosemarie Fiore, a nationally recognized artist; and Richard Aschenbrand, a professor, curator and graphic designer at the Columbus College of Art & Design.

No thematic vision unites the exhibit. Instead, viewers explore pieces of exquisite beauty and technique along with works that present elaborate ideas and messages.

Using found materials, Greg Stange produces quirky sculptural vessels. In Baby Boomer, a globe is suspended above a metal bowl. On top of the globe is a bronzed baby shoe. Bullets attached to wire stems surround the item like a bouquet of flowers. Referring to the ornate metal-smithed vessels produced for the Roman Catholic Church and medieval kings, the piece is a meditation on power.

Josh Foy unites material and meaning in three politically charged pieces. In Made in China Too, he explores the perils of consumerism by producing a U.S. flag from cast and Chinese plastic toys.

A take on Shepard Fairey's "Obama Hope" poster, Foy's New Look, Same Great Product uses toy guns, house shapes, money and circuit boards to address the problem of "politics as usual."

Much like a scientific specimen case, Lindsey Nodo's assemblage Collective of Transformations features butterfly wings, beetles, leaves and seeds preserved in resin. Embedded within the piece, a functioning compass suggests the effort to understand, chart or identify the unknowable.

Paul Richmond explores the issue of gay marriage in Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise.

A dollhouse atop a female mannequin's legs, Womanhouse by Jessica Pardue questions sexual roles and identity.

Strong two-dimensional works include the comical Henry Hates Roy by Juliet Montague; the atmospheric Being Ever Seeing by Robert Mullenix; the biomorphic The Well by Dana Oldfather; the poetic Black Jacket by Brent Payne; the compelling River Mouth by Laura Sanders; and the ornate 5 Card Stud by Casey Vogt.

Great three-dimensional or craft pieces to look for include Jason Border's carved ceramic vessel Gator, Karen Gonzales' decorative quilt Peacock, Liz Hunt's furniture piece Walking Spindle Stand, Kristi Kloss' necklace Peruvian Gems, Janis Mars-Wunderlich's grotesque figurine Queen Mother and Katie Schutte's silver-andenamel Pineapple Vessel.

With its diverse array of truly accomplished work, the show is a must for fair visitors.