New art shows people, fun creatures and place

Fresh art around town gives viewers a chance to see portraits, animals, human figures and landscapes.

Over the past few weeks, fresh art has shifted into place around town, bringing several firsts.

At the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, married artists Al Pounders and Loren Olson are having their first solo show together in the United States. Except for his piece “Swine Lake,” Robin Coyner’s work at Tippecanoe Arts Federation hasn’t been shown before. And at the Bindery, Mina Shelby is displaying her first series since she graduated from Indiana University last year.

So make sure to take advantage of this thought-provoking and fun work.

“Landscapes and Floating Islands” by Al Pounders

The latest exhibit from Pounders, professor emeritus at Purdue University, spins out of the idea of returning. The subject matter for his landscape paintings come from 25 years of trips to Italy. Besides some of the oils, the dates — with the earliest starting in 1996 — span several years, showing his process of stepping away from a piece and then circling back to work on it.

Often creating on-site, Pounders said he focused on the place’s spirit and how people enriched the land. Although summer greens surrounded him, he said he instead chose colors that imparted the season’s warmth and energy. Aiming to contradict the two-dimensional space, Pounders said he used forms and diagonals to portray the landscapes’ depth.

Even his newest feature, five islands that line a deep ocean blue wall, exhibit a process of return. To create these collages, he said he tore off pieces he liked from old works he deemed unsuccessful, mounted them on a backing and sprayed them with protective coating.

“The process determines what the image becomes,” Pounders said.

The result combines material from trips to places by the sea, including in the West Indies, Italy, Sicily and the Caribbean, he said.

“Being and Becoming in a Field of Resonance” by Loren Olson

The human figures that form the foundation of Olson’s exhibits hold a great deal of interest in themselves, but they’re merely her starting point for grappling with major challenges of our time.

When oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Olson said she found herself angry, unable to use color and paint the vase shapes she’d been creating. So she returned to black, white and gray, drawing figures on drafting film and then using differently shaped erasers to smear or take away the graphite.

“The subtracting process is as important as the adding process to my drawings,” Olson said.

To present the figures, she mounted them so that she could stick lights behind different points. The result resembles a wall of X-rays. A hint of the earth’s atmosphere — conveyed by a blue arc of lights over the middle — is projected over them.

Look around the rest of the exhibit, and the drawings are displayed in several ways: on large digital prints and media as well as a projection that merges the figures.

But how were humans born out of her environmental concerns?

Because, Olson said, we’re central in these tragedies — as the cause and the beings who carry the earth within our bodies and minds. Creating these figures, she said, allowed her to work through her feelings, fall in love with humans again and see their potential to right the situation.

“Wild Thing I Think I Love You!” by Robin Coyner

Whimsical animals alone would go a long way toward making you stop and spend some time with Coyner’s exhibit — drawings and paintings that use acrylic and spray paint along with India ink and pencil — at Tippecanoe Arts Federation.

But stir in the stylish human clothes — think cats wearing a plume and pigs sporting tutus — with florescent colors and a street art vibe, and you can plan on staying a while. While you do, Coyner hopes you’ll laugh.

“I think I paint for other people because I love doing it so much. I love it when other people get such an enjoyment out of it, and that kind of motivates me to keep going,” he said.

Placing the animals into the context of pop culture and historical references adds layers of meaning. Coyner said he likes to take familiar critters and put them somewhere they don’t belong.

In “Sunset Selfie” for instance, he said he plays off Johnny Depp’s role as Capt. Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean” by drawing the bird on the famed strip in Hollywood — a spot overflowing with all sorts of characters. Coyner said he imagined someone dressed as Sparrow strolling down the boulevard as people photobombed and tried to take selfies with him.

“Color and Character” by Mina Shelby

When Shelby began her first series after graduating from Indiana University in 2014, she decided to paint portraits of women. Not only could she personally relate the subject matter as a woman herself, she said, she also could draw from her experience painting them. Her subject matter is personal, too — many portraits are of people she knows.

And so now, 12 distinctly different women line the upstairs walls at The Bindery. Kai’s dark brown braid rests on her left shoulder beside a pensive look that’s focused off to the left. Thea stares straight at the viewer, her shaggy shoulder-length hair framing her face. The acrylic backgrounds — painted on hardboard — create a subtle, unobtrusive atmosphere for the women.

Shelby let a central idea guide the process for the series.

“The shapes and things in the body, and then the facial expression and the background, (are) all kind of different but all still portraying this idea of, you know, emotion and who we feel that we are and how we express ourselves,” she said.

Shelby said she created cohesion by giving the women similar clothing styles. Bold and sometimes muted colors form shapes and patterns that create a sort of abstract painting within themselves. The clothes in Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece “The Kiss” served as inspiration for her series, Shelby said.

 

If you go

“Landscapes and Floating Islands” by Al Pounders. “Being and Becoming in a Field of Resonance” by Loren Olson. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Through Nov. 29 at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St. Free.

“Wild Thing I Think I Love You!” by Robin Coyner. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Through Oct. 23 in the Northwest Gallery at Tippecanoe Arts Federation, 638 North St. Free.

“Color and Character” by Mina Shelby. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Through Oct. 31 at The Bindery, 511 Ferry St. Free. Stop by the front desk to have someone show you upstairs. Or contact Shelby at msphoto.and.art@gmail.com.