PHOTO GALLERY: Please Touch the Artwork
Glenview's August exhibit offers interactive mixed media, watercolors and digital photographs.
Tory Cowles wants you to throw darts art one of her latest works to go on display at the Glenview Mansion Art Gallery.
A turquoise blue dartboard is attached to a large midnight blue chalkboard painted like one of her abstracts and with plenty of room for additional scrawling. If you missed it during the gallery's July exhibit of work by a group of abstract painters known as the Outloud Artists, you're in luck.
The work—titled "#576"—is still there, as part of this month's exhibit, which runs through Aug. 30 at the gallery and features more of Cowles's abstracts and the watercolors and photography of Barbara and Daniel Bell.
The public is discouraged from actually pulling the darts out of the board and throwing them back at it—as the artist inteded—in case a slip of the hand ruins the gallery walls, or worse, maims an unwitting passerby.
But three other large-size mixed media wall pieces by Cowles satisfy the urge to play with the artwork.
Cowles numbers all her pieces instead of naming them because, as an abstract artist, she does not want people to approach them with preconceptions, she said.
"#554" is a large abstract painting on a square wooden frame that has been rigged internally to function like a vertical pool table. Gallery guests can insert small wooden marbles into a small round hole hidden strategically over a black patch of paint. Once inserted, the balls roll, following an invisible path back to a ledge Cowles has built into the bottom left corner of the front of the painting.
Another work, "#563" comes with two pieces of black thread. If pulled taut, with one end attached to the painting, they form a rail, which can be used to convey wooden marbles into a small cup at the bottom of the painting. Although it requires some degree of finesse, the game is fun and an unusual way to interact with the artwork.
Across the room, #574" provides a set of painted narrow shelves and at least 50 loose wooden objects that can be moved around without fear of tampering with the artist's vision. Visitors can essentially create their own 3D painting with found objects that the artist has painted.
The informality and playfulness of Cowles's interactive abstracts extends to the rest of her, by comparison, more traditional paintings. "#465" is double-sided, stands freely in the middle of the gallery space and provides a viewing hole intercepted by colorful pieces of thread. A patchwork aggregation of vaguely geometric overlapping shapes, it reframes the environment it sits in through an incidental extension of its internal logic into the real world of the observer.
Each time the artist introduces a cut or appendage to her layered painted planes, the paintings begin to refer not only to themselves but to engage their surroundings in real time. The element of play is fundamental and primary to these painted assemblages by Cowles, this year's Torpedo Factory Art Center Artist of the Year.
While Cowles's works will bring out the inner child or "homo ludens" in us and stimulate the cerebral in those who prefer dwelling on how we occupy and see space, the work of mother and son, Barbara Bell and Daniel Bell, documents the natural beauty, fragility and fleeting vitality of our environment.
Mother and son draw inspiration from one another. Daniel is a photographer, and Barbara is a watercolor artist. Several of the pieces in the show, which they have titled "Common Ground," depict Daniel's fascination with reflections, ripples and patterns in nature and his mother's colorful reinterpretations of them.
While Daniel's black and white photographs convey the weight and gravity of a real scene captured under natural conditions, his mother's watercolors, painted in the studio, illustrate an almost tactile, formal structure of the natural objects she paints. Like a journalist, he reports on the status quo. Like a biologist, she obsesses over accounting for each tendril.
Daniel is interested in capturing endangered places like Death Valley and wilderness areas—"places that won't be like this 100 years from now," he said.
"Unlike some photographers, I don't have a particular location that defines me," said Daniel, who photographs both locally and across the United States.
According to a joint statement on the show, their work reflects "hope for a more balanced and thoughtful stewardship."
This is the first time they are showing together.
To learn more about the Glenview Mansion Art Gallery and upcoming exhibits, click here.