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Sunday, October 24, 2021

‘Poking at beehives’

The Nelson Gallery currently offers a new art exhibit titled “Poking At Beehives: Three Painters.” Running now until March 18, the showcase features Leslie Shows, Peter Edlund and Fred Tomaselli’s great foray into postmodern art. Each painter approaches the canvas in a way that figures to redefine what belongs in a canvas.

Shows’s resin-heavy pieces on display at the Nelson reveal her skill in distortion and form. The works are not merely paint on canvas; they involve the seemingly laborious task of striking bold images into glass-like resin.

When asked what summoned Leslie Shows to make art, she replied, “I grew up in Alaska and moved to San Francisco to attend art school, and that’s where I live now.  I always made art and just have the kind of brain that works for art.”

Opposite of Shows’s work hangs Edlund’s critique on the American landscape.

“My work addressed the inherent contradiction between the mythic, utopian image of the great American landscape and the actual social and political reality of racism and genocide,” Edlund said.

However, judging from his sometimes monochromatic paintings of birds imposed on the landscape, the political implications are subtle. Here the images are not distorted, but the colors have been. Deep blues and copper outline the painting, giving the mountains and objects ghosts that appear to stalk the plains.

Jasmine Kim, a second-year studying animal biology, took a break from the covers of an organic chemistry book to wander the Nelson’s gallery.

“I liked the nature paintings the best,” Kim said. “There seems to be a strangeness in how the painting was made — like the picture wants to fall off the wall.”

Another student, Maverick Bohn, a senior majoring in English, also had his wayward eyes set upon Edlund’s pieces hanging on the wall.

“To see how he captures nature [shows that] there was inspiration to gain through his own interpretations in his paintings,” Bohn said.

According to the Brooklyn Museum, Tomaselli’s influences are theme parks, music and the counterculture of Los Angeles during the 1980s. His work comes from Williamsburg, NY, where he has been making art since the 1980s, when the city was different from the hipster playground it is today.

Tomaselli’s art offers an exercise in a ritualistic viewing experience, as all of his pieces have a sort of abject symbolism. Using a variety of mediums such as tapestry, resin and wood panels, the mixed medium pieces put together an appeal to different emotions.

For students on the edge of checking out the Nelson Gallery, Shows assures that viewers will each take something unique from experiencing the work in person.

“Perhaps an encounter with images and materials that destabilizes or disorients by going outside language, or known visual imagery, can facilitate seeing in a new way,” Shows said. “And then a partial reorientation can occur when the viewer knows that the images are photorealistic reproductions of rocks.”

PETER AN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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