There were many double takes as I walked down into the Fringe Gallery through their instore entrance. More a bunker than ever before, I naturally assumed the wood paneled wall cabinet facing viewers upon entry was a Beth Pederson work. More lifelike than her previous works, what disappoint to discover it was a real cabinet and the first wall object confronting viewers.
First along the walls were older works by Jana Hargarten, pieces that continually reminisce over the every day, but that every day has had their day in many exhibitions already. “Alberta Birds” remains fascinating since the last time I saw it a year ago, and although not her formal best, it persists as one of her most sentimental works whether wittingly so or not.
The next cluster were Neil McClelland paintings, shining nostalgia down onto treasure-like objects. Like the beginning of a bad joke, a monkey in a jail suit holds a paperclip in its mouth in one piece while a plastic pirate hovers next to a Pink Panther pez clamped in a stapler. But beyond that feckless description, the paintings are quite impressive in their intimate compositions and conveyed sense of intrigue. Against dark backgrounds and reflective foregrounds, the objects are heightened and reinforced as precious commodities, and there is a touch of softness as surrounding paint streaks faintly against the mylar.
Almost missing the real Beth Pedersons, a series of 2 and 3D realistic pop objects that blend into the background of any room, that could possibly construct the setting of any room, this idea needs to start filling entire rooms while using all six sides--and showing as a solo artist.
While I was a little surprised to read that the underlying theme of the show focused on the everyday, as all three artists are doing quite different things thematically with the everyday, it was an interesting survey of their respective nuances, and it would have been interesting to hear all three of them talk about their work together.
Artists: Jana Hargarten, Beth Pederson, Neil McClelland