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Spring Exhibits: Mischief, Art Interprets Literature

Lee Haner

Lee Haner. Crested Horizon, 2011. Acrylic on wood panel. 12x18 inches

Six exhibitions, including two solo shows by Washington-Baltimore region artists and two shows by MFA students, are showing at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center this spring.

Four of the exhibitions open on Saturday, April 6 and close Sunday, May 26: Lee Haner: Mischief, Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature, Timothy App: The Aesthetics of Precision, Forty-Five Years and Saturation Point: Nudashank Presents Jordan Bernier, David Armacost, Jamie Felton, and Alex Da Corte.

Flavor of the Month: 1st Year MFA Exhibition opens Saturday, April 6 and closes Sunday, April 18. Crossing the Bifrost: MFA Thesis Exhibition opens Saturday, April 25 and closes Sunday, May 26.  

Lee Haner: Mischief

Lee Haner, who taught several years at American University, is a reclusive master whose artistic style is hard to define. He refuses to confine himself to one medium as he has tested his skills in photography, painting, and sculpture. The result of Haner’s experimentation is a body of strikingly original, thought-provoking work.  

His exhibition Mischief—comprised of recent mixed-media works that are balanced between representation and abstraction, painting and sculpture—is inspired by the land and first peoples of the American Southwest. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful, full-color catalogue.

In 2000, Haner was part of "Remembering the Present," a project exhibited at The Kreeger Museum that challenged Washington, D.C., area artists to paint, sculpt, draw, photograph, or digitally generate new monuments that would be relevant today.

The museum will hold the gallery talk for Lee Haner: Mischief at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature

Argentinean Jorge Luis Borges, whose works address the mythical, spiritual, and philosophical, is one of the most prominent and profoundly philosophical literary figures of the twentieth century. His stories explore theoretical puzzles that encourage readers to confront the basic mysteries of human existence: Why are we here? What happens to us after we die? Does God exist?

For this exhibition, curator Jorge J. E. Gracia chose 16 visual artists to interpret 12 stories by Borges, organized according to three topics: identity and memory, freedom and destiny, and faith and divinity.

Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature is organized by the University at Buffalo Samuel P. Capen Chair and UB Galleries, Buffalo, New York. The exhibition was curated by Jorge J. E. Gracia, SUNY Distinguished Professor-University at Buffalo Samuel P. Capen Chair.

The book Painting Borges: Philosophy Interpreting Art Interpreting Literature was published by Jorge J. E. Gracia with the State University of New York Press.

The museum will hold the gallery talk for Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9. The talk is sponsored by AU’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Timothy App: The Aesthetics of Precision, Forty-Five Years

Baltimore artist Timothy App’s signature style of geometric abstraction reveals a concise and considered understanding of the nature of painting, visual tension, and persistence. The exhibition brings together various aspects of the artist's evolution and growth into one of the region’s most important living abstract painters.  

Throughout his career, App’s main inspiration has been geometry. He has observed its presence in everyday experiences throughout his life: in the cyclical ritual of a Catholic Mass; the precision of a baseball diamond; the mathematical organization of a Brahms symphony, and in the contours of nature. 

With his use of striking colors, App credits inspiration for works like his Homage Paintings to Caravagio and Titian, artistic masters of the Renaissance. So while his paintings are minimalist and modern, their roots are deeply traditional.  

App’s use of color has shifted over time. In different moments of his career, his choice of color ranges from subdued to bold, unassuming browns to bright lavenders. Yet, he consistently relies on the infallibility of shapes.  

For all of its apparent simplicity, App’s work is surprisingly spiritual. His latest works focus on portals, barriers between two worlds. A recurring theme, its presence can be felt in the symmetric power of his art. Though the shapes and structures in App’s paintings may seem rigid, he creates them with optimistic fluidity. He claims that he’s never sure how a painting will turn out once he begins. He trusts its ability to transform and transcend.

The museum will hold the gallery talk for Timothy App: The Aesthetics of Precision: Forty-Five Years at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6.  

Saturation Point: Nudashank Presents Jordan Bernier, David Armacost, Jamie Felton, and Alex Da Corte

Nudashank is an artist-run commercial gallery in downtown Baltimore that features Baltimore artists alongside artists from other cities to broaden the dialog in the Baltimore art community. Curated by Alex Ebstein and Seth Adelsberger and presented in collaboration with the AU Studio Art Program, the exhibition brings together four artists who explore the idea of saturation.

  • Jordan Bernier works with printmaking and painted illustrations, but he has also explored video as an artistic medium. Also an avid skateboarder, Bernier combines his two passions by constructing public art structures that skaters can use to hone their skills.  
  • David Armacost is an abstract artist with a sense of humor. In his collaborative project Disorderly Conduct Armaocst and another artist traded artwork back and forth. In each exchange, the artists produced a parody of the other’s work, resulting in a collection of pieces that reflect an artistic, energetic, and fun conversation.  
  • Jamie Felton is an abstract artist whose paintings use sand, silk, burlap, and other textures. Her sculptures are as likely to be made of yarn and chicken wire as they are wood and glass. Felton’s work was included in Bad Girls 2012, an exhibition featuring strong female artists who do what they want with no apologies.
  • Alexa Da Corte re-imagines everyday objects in unexpected ways. Think two-liter soda bottles, plastic lawn chairs, rubber gloves, and anything else you might find in a Dollar Store. His works present commentary on capitalism, suburbia, and pop culture.  

The museum will hold the gallery talk for Saturation Point: Nudashank Presents Jordan Bernier, David Armacost, Jamie Felton, and Alex Da Corte at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

MFA Exhibitions

Two MFA student exhibitions will also show at the museum. The first exhibition, Flavor of the Month: 1st Year MFA Exhibition presents a diverse assortment of work by first-year AU MFA students Meredith R. Greenberg, Joshua Johnson, Randall Lear, Andrew Baritz, Christina Humble, Jody Fang, and David Ross.

The second exhibition, Crossing the Bifrost: MFA Thesis Exhibition, features works by AU’s graduating MFA students David de Bol, Angela Esteve, Emily Francisco, Lisa Marie Jakab, Ryan Carr Johnson, Shahdeh Khodavandi, Dan Perkins, Anna Prezioso, Heather Ravenscroft, Jenny Sawle, and Harini Thyagarajan.

The museum will hold the gallery talk for Crossing the Bifrost: MFA Thesis Exhibition at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. An Artists’ Reception will follow at 6 p.m.