CLARE TO­RINA AND ALEX PAULUS, ‘BLIND NAV­I­GA­TOR’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - ARTS -

Art does ev­ery­thing for us on a dizzy­ing mul­ti­plic­ity of lev­els, yet artists them­selves, of ev­ery sort, op­er­ate in a state of un­cer­tainty that the poet John Keats called “neg­a­tive ca­pa­bil­ity.” They are, as the ti­tle of Clare To­rina and Alex Paulus’ joint ex­hi­bi­tion makes clear, blind nav­i­ga­tors seek­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through the dark thick­ets and by­ways of cre­ativ­ity. “Blind Nav­i­ga­tor” will be dis­played through Feb. 27 at Crosstown Arts.

To­rina lives in New York. She stud­ied at the Univer­sity of Mem­phis and has a mas­ter of fine arts de­gree from the School of the Art In­sti­tute of Chicago. Paulus lives in Mem­phis and earned­hism­faat­mem­phis Col­lege of Art.

We are told nei­ther to what de­gree the artists dis­cussed the works they’re show­ing at Crosstown Arts nor to what ex­tent they agreed upon themes and mo­tifs. That said, “Blind Nav­i­ga­tor” of­fers a glimpse of co­op­er­a­tion and united con­tem­pla­tion about the aims that art be­gins with and the re­sults of its en­deav­ors, at the same time al­low­ing each artist free­dom to ex­er­cise his or her in­di­vid­ual thoughts and skills.

The ex­hi­bi­tion con­sists pri­mar­ily of paint­ings, 13 from To­rina, 19 from Paulus, as well as be­la­bored in­stal­la­tion pieces and ma­nip­u­lated found ob­jects which are not as in­ter­est­ing or ar­rest­ing as the paint­ings. To­rina’s paint­ings, pri­mar­ily oil and acrylic on can­vas, are fairly small, each sur­rounded by a lightly in­cised wooden frame of the artist’s man­u­fac­ture. Col­ors are muted, and the mood seems ele­giac and con­tem­pla­tive. The pieces are or­dered sym­met­ri­cally in a straight row on one long wall.

On the op­po­site wall, Paulus’ mixed-me­dia-on-can­vas Through Feb. 27 at Crosstown Arts, 422 N. Cleve­land. Visit crosstow­narts.org. works vary in size from quite small to large, with the paint­ings ar­ranged in a ris­ing and fall­ing arc, the largest pieces at the top in the cen­ter, the small­est at the two ends. Here, the aura is satiric and whim­si­cal — yet deeply im­bued with a sense of ur­gency and melan­choly. The sub­jects are dam­aged and de­fec­tive, and the artist’s task of re­pair­ing the goods seems rel­e­gated to record­ing rather than fix­ing. From a sail­ing ship that bears a red patch in­side a pink sail (“Tape ship”) to a po­lar bear with a red X across its face travers­ing a white land­scape (“No more P bear”) the sit­u­a­tion ap­pears hope­less.

In “For the Gods,” To­rina of­fers a Stone­henge-like red al­tar with a sort of Egyp­tian or Poly­ne­sian carved head and torso ly­ing on its side, against a gray grid­ded back­ground; it’s a po­etic farewell. “For Sophia” presents a vi­sion of what ap­pear to be four closely crowded birch trunks with a pair of hands, Alex Paulus, “That seems not right,” acrylic on can­vas. From “Blind Nav­i­ga­tor” at Crosstown Arts.

the fin­gers painted blue, red, yel­low and black, grip­ping two of the trees. Per­haps that’s a face peer­ing from the dense back­ground; per­haps the trees them­selves pos­sess faces, all in ser­vice to the barely sup­pressed mythic themes that pen­e­trate To­rina’s work.

Two pieces by Paulus sum­ma­rize the at­mos­phere

of “Blind Nav­i­ga­tor,” an ex­hi­bi­tion that’s as ex­u­ber­ant as it is thought­ful. Each called “That seems not right,” they posit a world and a cos­mos in which grav­ity and clas­si­fi­ca­tion are turned up­side-down, in which the fa­mil­iar guide­posts have been scram­bled. The im­pli­ca­tion is clear: We can work with this chaos. ASU Mid-south (Don­ald W. Reynolds Cen­ter), 2000 West Broad­way, West Mem­phis: “Art and Soul III,” through March 29. Email: [email protected], or call 870-732-6260. Cir­cuitous Suc­ces­sion Gallery, 500 S. Se­cond: “Strong Women,” through March 14. Pho­to­graphs by Lawrence Ja­sud. 901229-1041. cir­cuitous­suc­ces­sion.com Dixon Gallery and Gar­dens, 4339 Park: Joshua Brin­lee: “Amal­ga­ma­tions: A Dig­i­tal Reimag­in­ing of the Dixon Gallery and Gar­dens Per­ma­nent Col­lec­tion,” through April 3 in Mal­lory/ Wurtzburger Gal­leries. Plus: Thomas Cole’s “The Voy­age of Life,” through April 3. 901-761-5250. dixon.org Eclec­tic Eye, 242 S. Cooper: Jen­nifer Balink: “The Blues,” ends Wed­nes­day. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mon­day, Tues­day, Wed­nes­day; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thurs­day; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri­day; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Satur­day. 901-276-3937. eclec­tic-eye.com Jay Etkin Gallery, 942 S. Cooper: David Hall: “Love Never Fails,” through March 5. Spot­light Se­ries: Works on Pa­per by David Hall. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues­day through Satur­day or by ap­point­ment. Call 901-550-0064. Gallery Ten Ninety One, 7151 Cherry Farms Road (WKNO Dig­i­tal Me­dia Cen­ter), Cor­dova: “Tro­phies Through the Lens: African Wildlife Sa­fari Im­ages 2015,” through Feb. 29. Cu­rated by Jack Ken­ner. 901-458-2521. David Lusk Gallery-mem­phis, 64 Flicker: Anne Siems: “Works on Pa­per,” through Feb. 27. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues­day through Fri­day; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Satur­day. 901-767-3800. MCA Gallery at Play­house on the Square, 66 S. Cooper: Adam Hawk: “An Ex­plo­ration in 3D Print­ing,” ends Sun­day. Gallery hours: 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. Mon­day through Satur­day, 1-5 p.m. Sun­day, and on show nights. mca.edu Mem­phis Col­lege of Art’s Nesin Grad­u­ate School, 477 S. Main: “2016 Art Education The­sis Ex­hi­bi­tion,” through March 8 in Hyde Gallery. Re­cep­tion 6-9 p.m. Feb. 26. Work of 15 can­di­dates pur­su­ing their Mas­ter of Arts in Teach­ing and Mas­ter of Arts in Art Education de­grees. Noon-5 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day and noon7 p.m. Satur­day. 901-272-5100. Na­tional Or­na­men­tal Metal Mu­seum, 374 Metal Mu­seum Drive: “2015 Tai­wan In­ter­na­tional Metal Crafts Com­pe­ti­tion,” through March 13. Plus: Dou­glas Har­ling: “Res­i­dence of the Heart,” through March 6; clos­ing re­cep­tion, 3-5 p.m. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues­day through Satur­day, noon-5 p.m. Sun­day; closed Mon­days. 901-774-6380. metal­mu­seum.org L Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin, Suite 104: “10th An­niver­sary Ex­hi­bi­tion,” through Feb. 27. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues­day through Fri­day; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Satur­day. 901-767-2200. Lross­gallery.com.

Clare To­rina, “For the Gods,” oil and acrylic on can­vas. From “Blind Nav­i­ga­tor” at Crosstown Arts.

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