Art Stop, Des Moines’ autumnal celebration of the arts, has been expanded this year to three full weekends. Three very different artists’ new shows demonstrate a range of creativity worth celebrating. Since he opened a gallery ten years ago, with Jackie Moberg, TJ Moberg has been too busy to prepare a show of his own art. Plus his work has been too much in demand. Besides numerous commissions, anything else he made sold immediately. So in order to have a show, he had to hold a year of work off the market. The result is called “Skins” and runs through October 6 at Moberg Gallery.
“Skins” is also Moberg’s name for the dried paint assemblages that are the foundation of the works in this exhibit. After drying in the bottom of paint cans, they are torn, chipped and mixed with found objects before being assembled and then bathed in a solution of epoxy and chemical conditioner, blowtorched and cooled. The result is so smooth looking it belies ragged, even dangerous, textures.
Some of these works are quite personal. “Trans Am” is an homage to his native Eastside. “The firebird says mullets, fast living and cut off tank tops. It’s a giant bird logo on the hood of a 6.6 litter V8. Can it get any more over the top than that?” he asked.
Artist Chris Vance suggested that the process TJ has invented has parallels with Jackson Pollack invention of “action painting” seven decades ago. TJ is amused by that. “Ha. Jackson Pollack and TJ Moberg mentioned in the same sentence - and it’s not about drinking? I’m just excited to be creating works of art that are like nothing else I have created. I want to keep pushing my own comfort levels and not get complacent with successful work.”
Saley Nong’s “Not for Sale” at Thee Eye Gallery is a collection of installations that are as perishable as the foods from which most of them are constructed. Their playful, carefree nature does not detract from their existential portent. “Waiting” is made of Sweet & Low packets with chicken wire but looks like a body seeking a sarcophagus. “Mended Heart” is made with a freshly harvested cow’s heart, jute, caramelized sugar and honey. “Desire” amounts to lard, sugar, barn wood and chicken wire all crucified with long nails. “Table for Turds” presents a lavishly set dinner table with roses, candelabra, linen and exquisite china under entrees of cow shit. “Blood Butter” bonded by mixing its (pig’s) blood with cream fat, before cooling and sculpting. “Cotton Candy Hair” is made with human hair wigs, all remarkably similar. “My Mother” was built with patties of steamed sticky rice. A digital print of the artist’s faces advised “See Evil, Hear Evil, Speak Evit.“
Dan Mason’s new paintings, at Olson-Larsen Galleries through October 6, dazzle with contradictions. He chooses durable, even indomitable, subjects like old Brooklyn neighborhoods, stones, harbors and the sea. Then he portrays them, minimally, as mystical and ephemeral. The paintings look like single applications of oil on coarsely woven linen. Yet each one actually has at least 14 ultra thin layers. Mason never uses green paint though the greens he creates, by mixing layers of other colors on the linen, are the most brilliant in this self-described colorist’s spectrum.
Art Stop continues each weekend through September.