REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: THE ART OF GLEN ETHERIDGE AND ROBERT LORENZ
January 14, 2017 – February 3, 2018
Members Preview | Saturday, January 13 | 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Gallery Talk with artists Glen Etheridge and Robert Lorenz | Saturday, January 13 | 6:00 pm
Gallery Admission – Free
Exhibit Sponsor: Designs by Linda
In the Regenhardt Gallery at Shrode Art Center we are featuring the artwork of Glen Etheridge and Robert Lorenz, a regional spotlight exhibition. These two artists were both top award winners at the 2017 Cedarhurst Art and Craft Fair. Upon viewing their booths I saw a common thread between their two bodies of work. Both seem to evoke a sense of nostalgia for a time, not too long ago, during the turn of the century in the Midwestern United States. These two bodies of artwork make a unique pairing in the gallery space and create a dynamic conversation between what may seem like old friends, however, the artists have not worked together professionally before.
Both artists possess a masterful skill over their media and use their careful attention to detail to render old tools and objects. These objects, while maybe not valued as much in today’s contemporary society seem to become more precious through their artistic study. It raises questions of value and what we value today. I like how both artists use a wide range of textures and a warm, earthy color palette to bring inanimate objects to life.
I first became aware of Robert’s body of work when he entered the Shrode Fine Art & Craft Competition and was our 2017 Best of 3-Dimensional Award Winner. I love to see artists working today in the field of ceramics that are able to successfully pay homage to the history of their media, reference artists and forms from the past, and yet find their own voice and express themselves in a fresh and contemporary way. Robert’s use of classic forms and wood firing methods, juxtaposed by modern decals, lusters, and original poetry create a surface with depth that causes the viewer to continue looking, reading, and questioning.
Glen possesses the raw talent of ‘seeing-drawing.’ He is able to study an object and then record the most subtle details on paper with masterful accuracy. Glen does not use reference photography in his studio. He creates simple, still life arrangements by lighting old tools and objects next to his drawing paper. He ‘sees’ the object(s) and free-hand draws every detail, capturing the essence of his memory as well as small flakes of rust, chipped paint and worn handles. Through his use of color and energetic mark-making these inanimate objects take on a life of their own.
This exhibit should raise questions in us about our own nostalgia surrounding everyday objects in our lives. What do we value? Why are ‘things’ important? What stories do they tell? And what stories are important to preserve and pass on?
Director, Shrode Art Center
My interest in old tools came from my Grandfather and Father. I attempt to capture the nobility and character in well designed and well used tools. I love to celebrate the patina in the wood and metal of these antique items. In each composition I constantly wrestle with the ability to capture what a photo cannot. I am currently attempting to move beyond old tools, studying light and reflection in various items. I have also begun experimenting with drawing on wood.
I have been interested in artistic expression since I was in grade-school. I was trained in art at the College of DuPage and began drawing portraits then. I majored in Visual Communications at Northern Illinois University, where I also studied Art History and Color Theory. I continued my drawing talents by creating portraits as gifts for friends and family. In about 2012, I visited art fairs. At these I was inspired to challenge myself to put together some drawings and enter our local art fair. At this time I started drawing old tools and have continued since.
Glen Etheridge – Pencil Drawings
Most of my work can be traced back to three main points of origin: folk pottery of the southeast United States, the dada movement of the early 1900s, and nostalgia for my own personal history.
I have always been drawn to functional items. Thus the simple, functional clay forms made in the folk pottery tradition have always been a source of reference when making my own work. Even before I had the proper historical knowledge and terminology to talk about them, I was emulating the jugs, jars, pitchers, and myriad other shapes made by the various families throughout the southeast region. These simple but strong forms are familiar and evoke a sense of vicarious nostalgia for a time and place I have never personally experienced.
When this vicarious nostalgia for the folk pottery culture is combined with the genuine nostalgia for my own family and home, the result is a range of more personalized functional forms and materials that appear soaked in the past without imitating it directly. Traditionally fatter jugs get stretched and narrowed to resemble two liter bottles of Super Chill soda. Bottle necks get stretched to look like the long flexible nipple of a calf bottle. The ubiquitous five gallon buckets that litter the farm get reinterpreted as ceramic water coolers. And more directly, pieces of wood and metal scavenged from the falling barn get reused as display bases and embellishments for the pots.
While the pottery forms themselves knit together the threads of folk pottery and my personal history, the text applied to the pots introduces the more “contemporary” ideas of dada and “fine” art. Writing on pots is nothing new, and has strong ties to the folk pottery tradition, specifically via David Drake (Dave the potter) and the Kirkpatrick brothers. But while these historic examples seem legitimate, in my own work such an overt addition of content feels inauthentic and appears to be trying too hard to be taken seriously. This inauthentic feeling is cut, however, through the use of dada’s found objects and the surrealist literary technique of automatic writing. Items found at random (a doctor’s note stuck between the pages of a book, or a box of junk accidentally bought at an estate auction) serve as the catalyst for the stream of consciousness phrases and verses. The text has no meaning; it is utter nonsense. But this nonsense does serve to subvert the seriousness of “fine” art, and begins to remove the importance of myself as the artist.
In the end, if all three of these elements have come together properly, I have made pots that are interesting and engaging without appearing pretentious or inauthentic. They bring up notions of the past, but not a past so distant that it is not accessible; pots that are relatable without being too personal, perhaps even evoking an unidentified sense of nostalgia in the viewer.
Rob has been working in clay since 2001 when he was required to take a ceramics class while pursuing a degree in art education. After taking far more ceramics classes than were necessary, he decided to pursue clay more seriously. In 2007 Rob received his BFA in ceramics from Southeast Missouri State University. In 2013 he started his masters studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Graduating with his MFA in May, 2016. Currently Rob is trying to figure out how to make all this ceramics education work in his favor.