Visual Arts

Gallery Hop challenge: Apply museum eyes to everyday art

Your mission for Friday's Gallery Hop: Realize that you're thinking inside the box.

Sometimes it takes visiting a series of shows to understand our society's perspective on art: When we turn the act of viewing art into an activity done in museums or galleries, the artistry in everyday experiential artwork can elude us.

When was the last time you walked out of a movie theater and declared that the film you saw was a shoo-in for the best-editing Oscar, studied the symbolism in the cover art of your latest music purchase, or admired the pattern in your favorite armchair's upholstery? If your answer is rarely or never, you've been sucked into the box.

Consider this Gallery Hop a chance for introspection: If the intent in your gaze changes when the work is presented in the space we're accustomed to viewing “art,” take that “inside the box” thinking that you'll apply to the following sampling of Friday's shows outside the gallery space and see how many daily artworks you might be taking for granted.

Comix at LAL @ DAC: The recently opened comic art exhibition in the Downtown Arts Center on Main Street features work by regional comic artists and therefore features some repetition in work from the similar LexArts exhibition last year — specifically Mike Maydak's haunting work 1782. However, while continuing the emphasis on comic art's advancing placement alongside fine art in scholarly recognition, Comix exults in the distinct artistry that goes into the production of a comic. Examples by Kenn Minter, John Howard and J.T. Dockery demonstrate the varying styles of comic art. Sara Turner's step-by-step layout shows the birth of a comic through clearly labeled progressions from pencil sketch to ink lines, lettering and coloring.

Geoff Sebesta's 12-page comic, A Minor Threat, steals the show through his work's all-encompassing execution. Intentionally unfinished to clearly show the creative process in action, A Minor Threat also features a grotesque story line inspired by the artist's former job at the San Diego airport, making it an ideal example of how narration makes a comic into its own distinct genre of fine art.

The Sights and Sounds of Chinese Opera at Lexington Public Library Central Library Gallery: Opera is its own art form, but the visual arts serve as a backup through the use of costumes and scenery. In The Sights and Sounds of Chinese Opera, the library brings emphasis to the visual portion of Chinese opera, an art form that dates from the late 18th century, presenting costumes and masks from the Heilongjian Province School of Performing Arts in China and musical instruments from a Lexington collection. In highlighting the use of visual art in expressing the emotions and beauty of the characters of Beijing opera, the exhibit showcases how visual art surpasses its static nature to become an intricate part of a physical production.

Kathy Rees Johnson: Matrilineal Musings at Heike Pickett Gallery at CMW: Family photographs are rarely considered art, yet most photographers can tell you that their love of the art form originated in their adventures with the family camera. As a painter, Johnson does not use a camera, but she uses family photographs as a base to explore ideas of generations and familial similarity. Her latest series of work, Matrilineal Musings, finds its origins in the home photo collection of her recently departed mother.

“The exercise of studying faces and figures closely deepens the connections not only to one's ancestors, but living siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles,” she writes. “I was attracted to the fact that my ancestors enjoyed many of the same things I do, such as wandering under the sky through woods and along waterways. I could see where stories also connect the living with the departed.”

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