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Art comes out at Sage’s Dragnet


A very different crowd of artists (48 of them in all!) showed up for Dragnet, Sage Project‘s open invitation exhibit, from those who showed up for 2007’s Here and Now open invitation exhibit at Copy Gallery. In Dragnet, I got the sense of people struggling to find their inner artists and anxiously daring to reveal them. Quite the opposite at Copy, which featured mostly art-school grads–and peeps connected to them–eager exhibitionists I guess you could say.

Gerard Cerini, Sky, Aluminum, 36 x 36 inches
Gerard Cerini, Sky, aluminum foil, 36×36 inches, 2003

Gerard Cerini’s Sky would seem like a traditional, academic sculpture–except for the materials. Paul Wadlinger, show participant (an elaborate fantasy painting) and gallery sitter at the moment I was there–said Cerini’s Sky is solid aluminum foil held together with glue and it weighs a ton. Just the effort to make this life-size figure from that material is pretty startling. The gap between the lowly kitchen material and realistic modeling puts Sky outside of the contemporary mainstream, but the earnestness and quality of the job well done deserves some kudos, as does the title of the piece, which points attention to where the subject is looking and what his shiny material could be reflecting.

The distance between this work and the classical sculpture crapification of Matthew Monaghan is miles apart on the surface, but not really all that many miles if you think about it.

Bob Scheib, Island, sculpture painting, 21.75×20 inches, 2007

The show had a number of literal pieces about neighborhood that tried to bridge the gap between 2- and 3-D. Lilliana Didovic used little shiny bits of tile to add a decorative and craft touch to her exuberant and otherwise traditional painting Neighborhood, and Suzanne Francis hung a little toy parachutist from the frame atop her neighborhood painting East Parkside Commando.┬áBut the most successful and daring effort to unflatten the second dimension belongs to Bob Scheib, whose “sculpture painting” Island is a back-lit diorama, made of layers of wood cutouts in a frame. Scheib is one of the artists Sarah Roche has included in her upcoming show we told you about at Raritan Valley Community College.

Mark Dilks, Take Out My Eyes, oil on wood, 12x12.5 inches, 2006
Mark Dilks, Take Out My Eyes, oil on wood, 12×12.5 inches, 2006

Mark Dilks gave the 2-/3-D conundrum a run for its money in his heavily impastoed Take Out My Eyes. The eyes are literally dug out of the layers of paint, and I honestly fear for Mr. Dilks’ mental health.

 Ben Howard, Foul Swoop, oil and acrylic on canvas, 3x4 feet, 2009
Ben Howard, Foul Swoop, oil and acrylic on canvas, 3×4 feet, 2009

Embracing 2-D for 2-D, Ben Howard has a deft painting that channels Lari Pittman, with its gestural drawing, conflicting spatiality and print-like layering.

Jonathan Pappas, The Nuclear Family, sculpture of clay, wire and tape, 17x13x5 inches
Jonathan Pappas, The Nuclear Family, sculpture of clay, wire and tape, 17x13x5 inches

And speaking of channeling other artists, the charming Nuclear Family sculpture by Jonathan Pappas has a touch of Miro in his mutiple creature feature. I especially loved the space kid hiding in the coffin underfoot.

But much of the show was marked by the earnestness of the work. Whether sophisticated or not, that earnestness gave this show its value, the sense that people in many cases were crawling out of their cellars underfoot to reveal the secret art into which they had been pouring their souls.

Dragnet runs through Aug. 30.