Studio Visit: Anne Muntges

Anne Muntges, Skewed Perspective, 2014. Installation in The Center Gallery, Jamestown Community Campus, Olean.

Anne Muntges, 2014

When I visited Anne Muntges in her Buffalo studio last year she had just finished up a Bemis Art Center residency where she had been working on a weird “kitchenette” drawing installation. This was not a drawing of a kitchenette, but rather an actual kitchenette transformed by drawing. To begin, Muntges covered all of the surfaces of things that make up a kitchenette with white paint: a section of wall with cupboards and a counter, a microwave oven sitting on the counter, a rotary telephone with coiled cord hanging on the wall, a circular table, salt and pepper shakers, a wooden chair, a broom and dustpan, etc.. All of these are painted white, their surface decor and detail erased so that they can serve Muntges as a continuous drawing surface or vast blank page.

Inspired by the black and white drawings of Edward Gorey and Shel Silverstein, Muntges uses black line to cover every square inch of the installation, bringing into being an odd whimsical drawn world comprised of crosshatched patterns in varied shades of grey.

Intrigued by her work, I invited Mungtes to install an expansive installation in a small gallery—The Center Gallery—located on JCC’s Olean campus. She spent months preparing and with the help of gallery staff (that is, with the help of Colin Shaffer) Muntges filled the gallery with the contents of a small furnished apartment, all of its surfaces encrusted with her obsessively drawn patterned crosshatchings. What the viewer encountered when they walked into Muntges Olean installation entitled Skewed Perspective was a surreal in-between place, made of readymade objects that no longer seem solid or “real.”  By changing the surface of things,  like surrealists Man Ray or Meret Oppenheim, Muntges managed to deconstruct the normal existence of things and reconstruct them as part of an uncanny imaginary world.

Talking about Skewed Perspective, Muntges said that she is currently trying to figure out ways to place herself inside the drawn space of the installation and has gone so far as painting her hands and drawn on them. Hearing this I began to understand that the practice of drawing (she works for hundreds of hours on the installation) and the drawn space are an immersive place of fantasy for Muntges. Very interesting.

Studio Visit: Liza LaBarge at UB

Liza LaBarge is a second year MFA student at the University of Buffalo. She’s just about to graduate and already has a few gallery exhibitions set up.

When I visited her studio, every surface, including most of the floor was covered by the large charcoal drawings she’s made over the past two years. I was surprised to encounter a young artist’s work so thoroughly engaged with historical art.Holy Family, charcoal on paper, 40" x 66", 2013

Focusing on narratives of femininity in art, LaBarge switches out the mythic characters of Renaissance and Baroque narratives and replaces them with contemporary figures or contexts.  In one work, the Virgin Birth takes place by Caesarean section and angelic nurses preform the operation. In another, plastic hospital tubing entangles the Holy Family.

Reflecting contemporary debates about the origin of Adam and Eve as prehistoric apes, LaBarge  remakes  the first humans in a marvelously strange drawing.  Acting like monkeys, LaBarge’s Eve chomps indelicately on bananas while Adam picks fleas from her hair.

Women’s close relationship with jewelry is another of LaBarge’s favorite themes.  Strands of old-fashioned family jewels weigh small children down, while young women hungerly stuff strands of diamonds and pearls into their mouths or wear them across their faces as masks.

I find LaBarge’s dissonant refashioning of femininity refreshing. It is a pleasure to see a young artist tackling this well trodden feminist territory in new ways.

LaBarge’s thesis exhibition will be held at Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University.
May 18- August 30, 2014
See her work also in VENAT at Indigo Art Gallery in Buffalo.
May 2 – May 31, 2014

Photographs of the Great Lakes by Robert Burley / Please send me links to artists doing work about the Great Lakes

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Click here to visit the webpage for this series by Canadian photographer Robert Bruley.

Click here to visit the webpage for this series by Canadian photographer Robert Bruley.