3 contemporary artists inaugurate redone Columbus College of Art & Design’s Canzani Center space
The Columbus Dispatch, 09/10/2015
This fall, visitors to the Columbus College of Art & Design’s Canzani Center gallery will find more to appreciate than exciting new works by area and internationally recognized artists.
In a significant renovation, the exhibition area was rearranged, ceilings and flooring were removed, a walled-off entryway was installed, and a small screening room (to open in December) was added. With the new look comes a new name: CCAD Contemporary Art Space.
“We wanted to create a space more amenable to contemporary art,” explained Michael Goodson, director of exhibitions. With the Columbus Museum of Art expansion going on next door, the timing felt especially right.
“They’re not small galleries; their bent is theatrical,” Goodson said of the renovated space, adding that for its first round of shows, “I chose works that would be enveloping in their use of the new walls.”
Artist Charles Atlas’ The Waning of Justice, which is enveloping and theatrical, seems like a perfect fit. Taking up whole walls in the first two gallery spaces, the audiovisual installation by the noted filmmaker fills one room with projected images of a number of sunsets that Atlas filmed during a residency in Florida. The installation is superimposed with random phrases and set to droning electronic beats and mournful bagpipes.
A small, free-standing screen shows a countdown, ticking away the minutes before the sun disappears on the horizon in each shot. When it does, a wall in the adjacent gallery comes to life with a lip-sync performance and politically savvy monologue by Atlas’ longtime friend, New York drag performer the Lady Bunny. The end of her song marks the beginning of a new sunset cycle.
Nothing is new about drag or a beautiful sunset, but something in the way Atlas captures and contrasts these elements, as well as the sheer scale in which they’re presented, instills new appreciation for both.
With a turn of a corner, the dim lighting in the Atlas section gives way to the jarringly bright gallery space populated by Beverly Fishman’s Big Pharma. The show presents works from her series of large wood canvases, which are covered in urethane auto paint and shaped and contoured to mimic the form of pills for pain and anxiety. Each is framed in neon colors or black, similar to advertising signage, with color combinations that conjure up conflicting feelings of allure and dread.
In the next gallery, Cordy Ryman’s site-specific installation Chimera 45 offers a dimensional assemblage of paintings and paint-covered wood planks nailed directly into the walls.
In the title work, an entire wall of planks is arranged to form geometric shapes, their sides covered in random splashes of neon orange and pink. The result is a visual experience that evolves as one moves through the space, revealing fresh infusions of color interrupted by raw wood, clean white and inked lumberyard stamps.
The smallest gallery is reserved for White Elephant (1860-) by Columbus artist Mary Jo Bole. She collected family photos, found images and her own illustrations to form square-patterned wallpaper that covers the entire space and conveys the depth of familial connection.
Taking it all in, one is struck by an overarching sense of mystery. Their frequent repetition on the walls manages to create a simultaneous craving for more information and the feeling of warm familiarity.