Monday, July 13, 2009

Asterisk @ Ingenuity

By far the most impressive project was Asterisk at Ingenuity, an instant gallery curated by Dana Depew of Tremont’s Asterisk Gallery in an empty building that used to house alternative rock radio station the End. In two weeks, he and his crew rehabbed the long-abandoned space and filled it with the work of 60 local artists. A majority of the space is tiny former offices and artists took them over, tailoring the spaces to their own needs. The range and quality of the work was breathtaking ranging from traditional work by noted local artists like Amy Casey, Dan Tranberg and Douglas Max Utter to installations like the evocative “Dream Guests,” by Brandon Brennan, Anna Tararova and sound artist Creep, who created a gently unsettling nighttime landscape. Many of the works involved televisions, including one that was nothing but a dark room with a single TV showing old footage of Big Chuck and Little John. Another, called “The Death of Terrestrial Radio,” was inspired by what the End staff had left behind. DePew’s own sculptural assemblages of light bulbs and glass lampshades, carpet, clocks, old photos and postcards and other memorabilia of 20th-century life were a high point: Depew has a distinctive style and vision that jogs complex feelings about the uses of the past and its leavings.

A New York-based artist, Erwin Redl, also had a piece called “Speed Shift” in the Asterisk Gallery. The rumor was that, although the local artists weren’t paid for participating (although they could sell their work if they chose), he was paid a five-figure sum to install this light-based piece that was so bland I entirely missed it the first night. With area artists like Depew and Jeff Chiplis doing far more interesting things with light, it seemed entirely unnecessary. In fact, it’s emblematic of how Ingenuity should forget the high-priced imports — not just for economic reasons but for artistic ones — and expand its reach into the local community. — Anastasia Pantsios