Having missed the opening several weeks ago, I finally made it over to the new David Petersen Gallery on Lyndale Ave. Petersen, who years ago co-founded the experimental, artist-run space Art of This, has shifted pace with this new venture and opened a commercial gallery. Located in an inconspicuous storefront tucked behind the row of vitamin/pet/liquor stores across from the Wedge, the new space is clean, bright and tidy.
The gallery’s inaugural show, Make Hay, features six artists working in drawing, painting, photography and sculpture, as well as forms in-between. My curiosity was particularly piqued by Scott Nedrelow’s framed canvas of mundane-colored carpet, the same kind you’d find in a featureless model home or new office building. This re-contextualization of this boring domestic material took on another layer of meaning after I flipped through an artist book by Nederlow sitting on the back table in the gallery. The book contains color photographs of similar carpet with patterns, lines and vague forms “drawn” into it with a vacuum cleaner ; in the same way you can affect an almost dual tonality on new carpet when you brush your hand over it, you can also make stripes when you vacuum. After seeing the artist book, I could see his wall piece in the greater context of not just the happy childhood discovery of the effects of a hand swipe on fresh carpet, but the whole history of painting and minimalism.
A different kind of intrigue struck me as I looked at the work of Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Gala Porras-Kim. Her anthropological approach to investigating issues of language, culture and history is evident in three small wall pieces that sit, formally, somewhere in the arena of assemblage, sculpture, drawing and sound installation. Informed by a heavily research-oriented practice, these works are part of a larger project involving her study of Zapotec, an indigenous language spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico distinguished by its use of tonal sounds and whistles. Provocative and beautiful, her works contain worlds of information and history, like mini-museums of an artistic research process. But like the best didactics, her installations don’t reveal everything, instead giving just enough information to inspire intense curiosity.
The clean white walls of the new David Petersen Gallery may not invite the raucous art/party experiments of his previous project, but Petersen’s eye for conceptually rich, complicated art combined with his willingness to make a business venture out of it is much needed around here.
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Make Hay is on view through November 4 at David Petersen Gallery, 2018 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis.
Sarah Peters is a Twin Cities-based artist, writer and arts programmer who is interested in public engagement with the arts and critical issues of our time.