Confusing theme belies interesting pieces

By Keri Hayes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Art as Relic" is the theme of Local 803 Gallery's newest show. The work of five Tucson artists supposedly form a coherent message about where we come from and what we bring forward from those who have come before us. Although it is very difficult to find coherency between the artists' work, as they are disparate in theme and form, there are some interesting pieces on display.

Mimi Feld uses hand-colored photocopies of her photography in many of her pieces. Combined with ornate frames filled with objects ─ like dried flowers and plastic bugs ─Feld's work is beautiful. One particularly interesting piece, "Monique," incorporates a transparency of a print for an almost 3-D effect.

Feld's work is said to "capture the essence of a bygone romantic era," but the subjects she has chosen certainly do not coincide with this theme. Mostly women, Feld's models are very up-to-date, some touting tattoos, nose rings and other bodily decorations that are certainly not reminiscent of anything except maybe a look out of today's front door.

Aimee Baker's work also reflects little of the show's theme; she is supposedly "recreating the preciousness of traditional Catholic Church relics while reassigning meaning" in her work. Yet her work seems to be more of an exploration of natural forms; recreations of birds and chickens in interesting abstract watercolors form a large body of her work.

Nancy Wilkoff has produced a series of mixed media boxes using organic materials like leaves, pods and fibers which explore solitude and peace in natural spaces. Again, her work is wonderful, but does not evoke the theme of "relic."

Two of the artists do seem to work with relics, although their work alters them to a more modern form. Donmee Choi explores ancient religious precepts of her native Korea in her video art, and works with wax paper, ink, leaves and text from William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf in her fascinating mixed media pieces. Choi's work instigates a sort of meditative feeling in the viewer. Erica Swadley incorporates Hindu iconography into her brightly colored oils and monotypes. Swadley's work is filled with an almost ethereal quality, as graceful forms in movement sweep across the canvas.

The "Art as Relic" theme may be somewhat confusing, but the abundance of talent and various themes in Local 803's latest exhibit make it worth a visit, especially since the gallery is so close to campus.

Local 803 Artisans Gallery is located at 803 E. Helen St. Gallery hours are from noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call 882-4625.

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