How do human beings fit into the landscape? How do we begin to tell the long and varied story of man and nature's delicately interconnected history? The studio practices of the artists Randy Bolton, Michael Krueger, and Tom Reed (senior lecturer, Sam Fox School) share this common desire. In the show Nowhere Backwards, we see each artist's own particular, peculiar mixture of wide-eyed wonder, exuberance, dry wit, careful observation, and uncanny sensitivity to his chosen materials as he labors to construct his individual narratives.
Bolton's direct, complex works; Krueger's spare, singular landscapes, and Reed's rustic assemblages share a deep desire to lay out the parts of their powerful stories. Each also seems to draw upon and revel in days of his youth: Bolton's references to children's book illustrations, Krueger's use of colored pencils, as well as Reed's reoccurring foundation of well-worn Bingo cards and weathered word-finds. The palette in each artist's skillfully constructed prints and drawings echoes those found in old magazines or story books, reinforcing the sense of wonder created by these delightful, ornate images. Their subject matter blends iconic, singular parts like a lone tree, a bird nest, or a waterfall with the most specific and intricate characters to form engrossing stories. These reoccurring yet varied bands of players are usually animals in Reed and Bolton's hands, while Krueger employs a wide range of human figures that might include a Native American chief, a dreadlocked hippie, or a colonial soldier.
In these extraordinary works we see each artist portraying a common longing for a time long lost. The viewer finds the stark openness of Krueger's Technicolor landscapes, Reed's truncated oaks, and Bolton's idyllic terrains obscured by myriad signposts and billboards. This uneasy longing is balanced by a richly cultivated sense of boyish charm. In this show we find each artist at the peak of his artistic prowess, deftly orchestrating these parts to layer his own wondrous, narrative tapestry.
Exhibition description by Hameltt Dobbins. For more information, including artist bios, visit the Des Lee Gallery website.