Artspace 1241, Brian David Dennis, Lesley Tao Mowat, Stella Untalan:
Being in the Woods
Being in the Woods unites Stella Untalan‘s ink drawings and Brian David Dennis‘ large cardboard construction titled, [bar], in a meta-magical art installation vibrating with the rhythms of the universe and nature. Minimalist drawings using walnut ink and a nib are serenely precise and flow with life energy. The repetition and hand/mind control pulses across the sheen of the paper like heart beats, the measure of time is palpable and flowing. Experiencing the drawings is like watching moonlight dapple the forest floor, the ebb and flow of water over rocks in a brook, and the strangeness of the pattern recognition. Each mark in the sequences captures a moment in time, memorialized with the utmost concentration and care, fading slowly across the span, then is reborn.
“I’ve created a series of drawings that are driven not by results but by process. Each of these drawings is made using the same ink, the same pen, the same unrelenting process. The results reveal themselves to be reminders of my walks and runs in the woods. The straight trunks making blurred lines that suggest motion, space, and time — a DNA image of being in the woods.” –Stella Untalan
Stella’s drawings are arrayed across the walls and bisect the space suspended from a taught cable using only monofilament, binder clips and mini clothes pins in a simple, unobtrusive design system. Walking among the drawings is like wandering through a strange forest of code and chaos, the paper softly reflects the light, the woody brown ink fading across parallel lines bring to mind chirps, tweets and buzzes of being in the woods. There is a serenity to the noisy silence of nature; bird calls, leaves rustling, branches scratching each other, my breath easy and full, blood gently pounding in my ears as I become just one element. The narrative is not about counting but a study of strange mathematics emanating from the artist’s liveness, energy and intellect.
Patterns emerge from the chaos then obscure themselves, morphing and changing across each of the drawings. The installation in the space adds another dimension to the holographic memory, an experience design, of the art, connecting new neural pathways to recollections. The suspended drawings are like looking into a pond, shiny and sleek, cloudy and confusing, with heavy bubbles popping and vanishing into ether, the paper given as much importance to the experience as the marks.
Floating on a long wall is a large, dramatic construction, like a great fallen tree trunk or a mysterious plank, made of corrugated cardboard. The artist uses the simple material as deftly as charcoal, sketchy and free, as precise as a stratum of geographic layers the paper speaks with energy and resilient power. By exploiting the familiarity of the materials, the monolithic construction attracts the imagination with surreal shape, pattern and texture. It’s like the molecules of the material are coagulating back into it’s original form, the geometry comes alive, each layer communicating in a digital language I don’t quite get. There is a powerful message coded in the artwork to think big with limited resources, explore the boundaries of the material world, and communicate with symbols, signs and ideas.
A state of being is established in the space, the [bar] finds a concentration of power and strength in such a simple form, like a lost beam floating down stream. The flow of dark and light, curves and lines, depth and breadth relates a feeling of social memory, bonded life forms and cooperation of energies in life. There is a liveness to the piece, a vibration emanates from across the room, echoing Stella’s drawings in a unique voice all it’s own. Time is stored like tree sap in the [bar], exploration is required, investigation and thoughtful contemplation follows a path through the mind of the artist.
“The piece will hover just off the wall surface. It is made of multiple layers of corrugated cardboard strips. The seemingly solid block protrudes from the wall at an angle, 21” deep on the left, tapering to 4” on the right.
I grew up in a house nestled at the edge of the forest. The woods were my favorite play ground. Happily building what I could with what was at hand, I learned to think big. I also learned that it was the making I enjoyed, completion was never the end game. [bar] suggests a segment of a much larger piece, displaced in time, lodged out of place. A small piece of what was never finished.” – Brian David Dennis
Last Saturday night was sultry, the air thick with the scent of flowering trees, the almost Summer sun beating on my back as I walked down Bainbridge Street towards 1241 Carpenter, the darkness of night still hours away. The evening was fantastical, the balance of energy expended more than equaled to the energy absorbed. Lesley Tao Mowat designed a sound environment in the space, an exploration of rhythm and vibration, quiet yet persistent like drifting into a dream. The manipulated sounds, ethereal and rich, resonate with the art drawing the viewer into a deeper state of being. The ambient sound of the gallery goers mashed joyfully with the comforting music. The vibe was natural and encompassing like standing knee deep in a cool stream.
That night I was inspired by my friends and the power of our relationships. I felt happy, energized, satisfied with my life, the physics of the experience as validating as teamwork, soulful in the exploration of symbols, and miraculous in the coalition of our community. We love each other in a spirit of ambition, progressiveness and acceptance that is boundless. Being in the Woods explores the code embedded in our social consciousness to be sharing and carefree, holding and kissing each other in our joy of being surrounded by the persistence of life and love as our protection and solace.
EXHIBITION DATES June 11 – 25, 2016, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1:30 – 4 pm (or email for appointment)
LIVE PERFORMANCE / ARTIST TALK Thursday, June 23 / 6 – 7 pm
Artspace 1241, 1241 Carpenter St, Philadelphia, PA, 19146
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer. (except where noted)
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