Zehren, Weidner and DeVinny @ the Racine Art Council’s ArtSpace Gallery through October 22

A very strong group exhibition of works by John Zehren, Gary Weidner and Doug DeVinny is currently on view at Racine Arts Council ArtSpace Gallery  at 316 Sixth Street in Racine. Zehren and Weidner are Chicago-based artists and graduates of UW-Parkside where they worked under the mentorship of  recently retired art department professor Doug Devinny.

John Zehren, Gary Weidner and Doug DeVinny at Racine Art Council’s ArtSpace Gallery. 316 Sixth Street, Racine WI 53403

Walking through the gallery it is impossible not to rub shoulders with the aluminum and copper sculptures that “stand” in the space. At first sight John Zehren’s metal sculptureslook cold and hard. But they warmed up as I got closer. Each of these “figure studies” is brought to life by a dynamic pelvic weight-shift, the same contrapposto stance that enlivens naturalistic figurative sculpture. Zehren’s abstractions are made up of metal planes and lines together with the occasional recognizable body part–women’s breasts, hearts, thighs, feet.

John Zehren, Figure Study 6, copper and glass, 2011

Figure Study 6, detail breasts and heart

Figure Study 6, detail belly and belly button

John Zehren, Figure Study 5, aluminum and glass, 2011

Figure Study 5, detail heart

Zehren introduced blown glass pieces into his his sculpture for the first time for this exhibition, and learned how to work the glass at Hot Shop Glass in Racine. These beautifully-colored and tranlucent globs of glass present the heart as an internal organ encased within each transparent metallic body. Gary Weidner’s “Flower”canvases are not paintings (as one might expect), but rather prints collaged onto stretched canvases. Using the  language of minimalist painting–dark smudges and abstract gestural marks scrawled across off white backgrounds–Weidner builds his subtle abstractions from manipulated digital photographs, inkjet prints and the etching press. Weidner repeatedly enlarges bleak digital photos of dead flowers standing in snowy fields. He prints the blurry enlargements onto paper, then modified the prints further by etching lines and smudges onto them. Finally, Weidner collages the prints on canvases in rough grid patterns that look a little bit like cheap posters wheat-pasted onto the side of a building. Weidner’s canvases–which can be mixed and matched to make their own grids– are a fresh and unexpected mix of digital and traditional printmaking.

Gary Weidner’s work on view at ArtSpace.

Gary Weidner, Flowers, mixed media, 2010.

Gary Weidner, Flowers, mixed media, 2010

Doug DeVinny does unexpected things with printmaking as well. A master of traditional printmaking techniques–engraving, etching, etc– his recent work unabashedly exploits computer programs like Adobe Photoshop to manipulate images and a high-quality inkjet printer to output his prints. In one series on view DeVinny starts with an engraving–the same technique used in the 16th century to reproduce the great German printmaker Durer’s designs–he made years ago. Scanning a detail of his own engraving, he manipulates the detail into a complex kaleidoscopic image on the computer screen. Just as DeVinny’s original engraving shows his interest in manuscript illumination, so too his digital works show his love of interlacing patterns and horror vacui charactestic of early medieval carpet page book illuminations and  cloissone jewelry.

Doug DeVinny, digital print.

Please comment: Did you see the show? Add your thoughts about the exhibition in the comment section here.

About Patricia Briggs
Patricia Briggs is the director of galleries and curator of exhibitions at Jamestown Community College in Western New York. She writes the blog "Scene Unseen: Viewing Notes" about visual art in her community.

2 Responses to Zehren, Weidner and DeVinny @ the Racine Art Council’s ArtSpace Gallery through October 22

  1. Anna says:

    Nice! I like the sculptures with the glass organs. I get how the heart is important, but I’d love to see him capture, say, the small intestines or the spleen. How cool would that be!

  2. jerry belland says:

    It really was a strong show. I like the way Zehren’s sculpture occupied the floor space.

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