It turns out that the title of James May Gallery’s new virtual exhibit, Indeterminate Spaces, Intuitive Places, is extremely relevant to the present moment, even though it was conceived long before the pandemic and its accompanying challenges.
It seems that the new spaces we occupy have indeed become indeterminate. For instance, where in space do Zoom calls occur? Can you truly be with someone else in a virtual place? Similar questions arise about virtual gallery spaces. What negotiations must be made between viewer and artwork in a virtual space that do not have to be made in a physical space? To what extent can you be with art in a virtual place?
Viewers can grapple with questions such as these until Aug. 31, through the virtual viewing platform Artsy, while looking at paintings by the four talented abstract artists who are featured in the Indeterminate Spaces, Intuitive Places exhibit.
When Kendra Bulgrin, director of James May Gallery, was assembling this exhibit, she knew that she wanted a strong group of abstract painters who represented a mix of established and emerging artists. Both Kayla Plosz Antiel and Emmett Johns have displayed their work at the gallery before, and Ute Bertog and Lisa Bergant Koi are new exhibitors.
Emmett Johns is an established artist and part-time Door County resident who has his own gallery and studio in Fish Creek. His art reflects a love of the local landscape, the people who inhabit it and his passion for abstract expressionism.
Kayla Plosz Antiel – a Canadian-born artist who lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina – has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions throughout the Midwest and East Coast. Her work is the most explicitly representational in this exhibit. Her canvases are awash with brightly colored florals – something Antiel says was precipitated by the necessity of quarantine and the desire for the outdoors.
Ute Bertog explores the relationship between language and its many representations. Sixty percent of the sale of one of Bertog’s featured paintings, Monopoly, will be donated to Black Lives Matter. As an artist who’s based in St. Paul, Minnesota, she’s witnessed firsthand the pain of her community.
When titling this exhibit, Bulgrin was especially inspired by the work of Lisa Bergant Koi, who has used the term “indeterminate spaces” to describe her own work.
“I take bits and pieces from the landscape and make something that might be identifiable, but sits at the peak of the indistinguishable,” Koi said. “I’m after a sense of wonder. I want the viewer to question what they’re looking at. That … is a way for me to evoke wonder.”
Even before she puts paint to paper, Koi’s creative process involves detailed explorations of the nature of perception. Once, while sitting in her car, drawing what she saw rushing past the windows outside, Koi recognized interesting dissonances between the way the eye collects information and the way the brain organizes that same information on the page. Following that discovery, Koi has used drawings created in the car as conceptual source material for her work.
“The eye darts from thing to thing; we don’t see in complete snapshots,” she said.
Although Koi uses sketches as source material, she works intuitively in the studio, as do the other artists in the exhibit. That’s where the other half of the exhibit’s title comes from.
“Through all of this, artists haven’t fundamentally changed the way they work,” Bulgrin said.
Although there is definitely a difference between experiencing a piece of art in person and experiencing it virtually, the importance of art in our communities hasn’t changed fundamentally either. It is precisely art’s enthusiastic embrace of life’s manifold indeterminacy that provides us with the tools to negotiate indeterminacy in our own lives.
To view Indeterminate Spaces, Intuitive Places and learn more about the exhibit and gallery, visit jamesmaygallery.com.