Monday, January 25, 2010

The First Show ------ Brett Colley "INCOMING"

Brett is one of those guys who you kind of fall for no matter what. He's a thoughtful artist, an engaging speaker and an extraordinary professor. He was gracious enough to be the first fella to be hosted by the Bakery.

Before we get into that I want to get into a couple of other things. That's how I am... tangental. If you continue to follow this site I think you'll get used to it. If you don't continue to follow the site then you may have gotten weary of it. Oh yeah, I also ramble.


Step One: The Fella

Brett Colley is a professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has some pretty strong ties to the ol' I.O.W.A. as he went to the University of Iowa many a year ago. (Not MANY... that makes him sound ancient which he's not, lets just say he went there.) I met him several years ago at the Oxbow residency where I was a'learnin and he was a'teaching. Skip forward to now I invited him to come to St. Ambrose as a Visiting Artist and to be in this show. Brett is a seasoned artist with many shows and visits under his belt and even though we are just a start up space he happily agreed. I'm not just pumping him up to make the Gallery look good, I'm pumping him up because he is good.

Step Two: The Words

I'm putting in Brett's Artist Statement because he can explain the work he has hanging more eloquently and succinctly then I.

I most commonly refer to this series of prints as the Apocalyptic Apparitions.

The compositions were designed to read from a short distance as twisting, skeletal figures, each a crooked

“genie” freed from its respective vessel – an oil drum, a test tube, the stump of a fresh-cut tree.

Upon closer examination, their swirling forms are comprised of dozens of smaller, intersecting images: broken dolls, buffalo, lawnmowers, laboratory mice.

A single Apparition is composed of more than a hundred smaller images, each carved separately from linoleum or wood and printed one by one, using a wooden spoon to apply pressure to the inked block from the reverse side of the print paper. The paper itself, Kozo, is manufactured in Japan from mulberry fibers. The sheets are lightweight but very strong.

The imagery is inspired by topical stories, news and events that have resonated with me after reading the paper, listening to the radio, or watching television. There are passages within the Apparitions that refer to the effects of media violence on children, our dependence on oil, the genetic modification of crops, cloning, clear-cutting, etc.

A small number of the Apparition figures contain imagery all relating to a single, central theme – environmental destruction or bioengineering – but most are composites.

I produced these images in order to ask myself questions, to allow myself the time to consider the complexities of my subjects. In short, I learn through this work, by examining each issue more closely, more critically.

Ideally, viewers of these prints will be incited to consider the meaning of the imagery, the role that art continues to play in our culture, and to reflect upon the source and depth of their own understanding of the world.

Step Three: The Results

Brett's visit was a success. The students that met and interacted came out of it with a stronger sense of art and "making". The gallery opened with 75 plus visitors. He felt that the people of Davenport were more inquisitive and engaging about this body of work then any other group of people that had seen it previously. (See we can do it)

Step Four: Oh Yeah

Did I mention the stamping? (I know I didn't... I guess it's kind of a jerky question to ask) Brett has created a series of rubber stamps with either imagery (tree stumps, slabs of meat, bulldozers) or text ("Demand Things of Quality", "We Vote With Our Money" ) that he happily and repeatedly stamped onto viewer's own cash. I think he ran the gamut from Singles to the ol' Benjamin. It's a great way to make art (and a statement) available to an entire group of people who may not see or hear it otherwise.

The show ran from December 1st until January 30th.

The Bakery is Open for Business

Alright, it's been open well before Anna, Heather or I ever stepped foot in it. It's possible I'm talking about the blog site though. Which I am. Okay, both actually.

Let's start off with a little backstory.

Nikki Schutter started the Eastside Bakery in 2006 on the corner of 12th and Esplanade in the (wait for it) East Village area of Davenport, Iowa. She is a fantastic Baker who makes pastries and pizzas that make your mouth literally water and your wallet figuratively cheer. Dedicated to high quality, handmade goods Nikki and her kids have been running a hellava place for the past few years. If you don't want to see the art, go for the TASTINESS!

Anna and I moved to Davenport this summer as I accepted a position at St. Ambrose as the new Printmaking and Book Arts Professor. We immediately made a connection with Nikki and her space. Noticing a fairly small gallery scene in the city and one completely absent in our neighborhood we set out to do something about it. Aided by Heather Lovewell (the Gallery Director of St. Ambroses Catich Gallery) we discussed our plans of having an "alternative" gallery space housed in the front of her bakery. To our excitement she was enthusiastic.

So began the conversion. Anna and Heather made some minor (but wonderful) cosmetic changes to the space. The front half of the Eastside Bakery was converted into The Bakery Gallery which was christened with an opening on December 4th 2009.

If you are unsure of Nikki's versatility in the kitchen you should come to the openings. She provides bite-sized samples of most of her goods.

The plan is to have bimonthly shows that showcase emerging and mid-career artists who produce work based in the printmaking, paper, text, and book worlds. We play it loose and fast, but very serious. Our hope is to provide a space with innovative, thought-provoking and distinct work from across the nation. We also hope to encourage a generation of young artists in the Quad Cities into creating their own space for the art they love and want to see.

Currently it is an invitation-based gallery, but if you feel like you have the chops please let us know.

Here's too a long healthy life of Art, Conversation and sweet, sweet Sweets.