Local artists layer on the culture

Thursday, June 9, 2005

People often complain about the lack of culture in Cape Girardeau, while other chose to do something about it. Such a group of people, Integrated Counterbalance, a local art collective currently consisting of six members, presented a collection of paintings and other artwork on the weekend of June 3. The show, titled Layered Dialect, featured works by Dennis Wilson, Lindsay Baker, Kristopher Naeger, Charlie Kent, Megan Thrower, and Henry James McDaniel. The event took place the H&H Building, which also housed Integrated Counterbalance's two previous shows featuring the original members: Thrower, Kent, and Naeger.

The work presented reflected the appropriate title, using paints and other mediums in layers. As Dennis Wilson explains, "Multiple layers can easily work against each other, but . . . can . . . become more unified and convey a unified response." Each artist uses layers in a different way, producing a different response. Naeger's pieces rely heavily upon two-dimensional shapes and bright colors, as well as negative space and hidden writing to create tension. Conversely, Lindsay Baker's thick paints and dark colors combine for a density and texture that can leave the viewer feeling overwhelmed or lost in thought.

In his artist's statement, Charlie Kent reminds us of the value that "we all see things differently . . . yet we're all created the same." One of the show's most striking pieces, "Three Seats in the Wind," provides an excellent example of this concept. The sculpture is composed of old screen doors and broken chairs, compiling what most might see as junk into a meaningful piece of art. Similarly, Harry James McDaniel uses metals, glass, light bulbs, and other industrial materials to create his art, which is sometimes electrically automated. Like the other artists, McDaniel also uses paints and other materials with "a special energy" to create unified layers.

Dennis Wilson's small frescos and washed-out colors mirror most the show's work by using abstract or neo-expressionist techniques to allow the audience to focus on their feelings, to detach mentally. Although all the paintings provide for more academic interpretations, Megan Thrower's contour line drawings and symbols, encouraging the viewer to be more cerebral in his or her interpretation of her paintings.

With these various styles, the show itself was layered, juxtaposing color schemes, materials, and themes into one space. McDaniel theorizes, "Nothing is more fulfilling than to be in touch with the universe and let it pour out through your soul; being guided and inspired through touch and sight and sound." The creativity of all these artists allows one to see this theory at work and to realize that reaching a local or global audience has little significance in experiencing great artwork.

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