>re.view< River Gallery, "Wild Women: Luck Be a Lady"
By Jonny Boys
Last night I attended the "Wild Women: Luck Be a Lady" opening reception at River Gallery in Independence, Oregon. River Gallery is a commercial gallery that operates well on the low end of the low market. For instance, everything in last night's opening was priced at $1,000.00 or lower. In their defense it is located in a very conservative, poor county--which is right next door to the very conservative poor county our magazine is located in--and people are more likely to impulse purchase work that is under $80 and they may spend up to $800 if they can set up a payment plan to acquire it. The gallery itself shows regional contemporary artists who specialize in abstract impressionism, realism, outsider art, and folk art.
I attended the show at the invitation of a good friend of mine who was juried into this show. Right off the bat I was appalled by the unpainted ceilings. A commercial gallery, that knows at least one hundred people will be in attendence on the opening night, should know that the ceiling needs to be blank. The walls and the ceiling should not draw the eye, they can help focus the eye with solid color, but that is it.
I noted as I walked through the show that the majority of nudes in the show were by men, which caught me off guard. I was under the assumption that the show featured female artists, hence the name "Wild Women". Interestingly enough the show seemed to be dominated by men, as is typical for the commercial art world.
The show was a run of the mill, rural art show. Chock-a-bock with very conservative traditional American contemporary art peppered with ceramic pottery, sculptures and some hand crafted furniture pieces. Only a handful of the artists actually created work that incorporated the theme of the show. And that was what struck me. If you claim to be a professional artist and you submit your work to a themed, juried art show, you best submit themed work. And shame on River Gallery for making the judgement that all that art be shown. There was nothing "wild" about the show. With the exception of the food. It was a smorgasbord of finger foods and wine, it literally took up one third of the gallery floor space. The place was abuzz with artists and patrons praising the works. In actuality the focus of the show was more about community. But as a critic really it seemed more like this show was about mediocrity than a professional presentation of fine art. That said, maybe my sights are set too high for the Mid-Willamette Valley.
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