CLARE TORINA AND ALEX PAULUS, ‘BLIND NAVIGATOR’
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.