Shared Creations, August 14 – October 2

Opening Reception: Friday, August 21, 7-10 PM

Shared Creations presents art created by pairs of artists working collaboratively. Although this notion is widespread in today’s art practice, it is not new. One of the first such collaborations appeared several decades ago, when Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid founded a movement called Sots Art, a Soviet version of Pop and Conceptual art. Their work was indebted to Dadaism and was conceptual, irreverent, and often humorous (for example, their project to paint the “most popular painting” in any given country, as determined by surveys of what the general public preferred in terms of subject matter, color, composition, etc.). Their controversial work incurred the censure of the Soviet government and both artists had to leave the country. They eventually settled in the United States, where they continued their collaboration for some thirty years.

Although the practice of working collaboratively may be encountered throughout the history of art, it seems to contradict the modernist idea that true creativity can only be born of a solitary struggle within the psyche of each individual artist. It has been suggested that the popularity of collaborative work these days may be linked to the realms of business, commerce, and popular media such as film and TV where products are developed by groups of people working together. Undoubtedly, the idea of collaborative art raises many interesting questions, beginning with how it is even defined. Each of the nine pairs of artists whose work constitutes this show approaches the practice quite differently, in their paintings, installations and photographs. Some examples:

Rita Grendze and Krista Svalbonas present a group of small collages that were developed as a result of what could be called serial collaboration. Each artist mailed her version of a particular piece to the other, who made some addition or change and then sent it back, for possible additional manipulations.

Candace Wark and Shirley Nannini (Windflow Photography) collaborate by photographing smoke patterns created in Wark’s laboratory (she is an engineering professor specializing in the field of aerodynamics, while Shirley Nannini is a photographer). They are exploring interactions of wind and light by introducing smoke into a wind tunnel and allowing it to flow over various objects. With these images they seek “to draw the observer into an evolving, dynamic view of art and nature.”

Robert Burleigh-Kronquist and Ben Dallas have been collaborating for a number of years. Each work is an assemblage of several canvases, done in muted tones and abstract vertical lines that are blurred and mysterious. In addition to these spare and elegant pieces, Bob and Ben show a group of small abstract linear compositions which, as it turns out, are the result of a very different kind of collaboration. The artists have devised a drawing tool consisting of two pens connected to a rigid board. Each artist attempts to dominate the direction of the drawing in a kind of arm-wrestling maneuver that is extremely amusing to watch (a U-tube video is part of the presentation).

Ted Glasoe and Nelson W Armour collaborate principally in choice of subject matter. Glasoe presents stunning straightforward photographs of Lake Michigan that could very well stand on their own. These are displayed paired with Armour’s photos of the same subject, to which, however, have been added extraneous elements, such as chemical formulas. The most successful of these are images in which a lake-scape contains a subtle ghostlike apparition of industrial factory shapes or other ecologically unfriendly elements.

Other pairs of artists in the show include:

Ewa Bloch and Baltazar Castillo
Jen Evans and Steve Banks
Carole Harmel and Lialia Kuchma
Arthur Lerner and Carole Harmel
Krista Svalbonas and Lisa Pressman