Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twenty Feet Under

"Artifacts (1-14)" 2008, installation

Photos of the new Donna Mintz show, "Lighting the Sun," at Sandler Hudson.

The show is a broader exploration of the concepts which inspired Mintz's excellent installation, "House Under Water" which was part of The Contemporary's group show "Courting Disaster" in 2006. The installation involved large glass jars hanging from the ceiling, each half filled with water and containing a small house made of rock submerged at the bottom. It was such a great piece, click here for a image.

The installation dealt with Mintz's connection to the area around Lake Lanier, GA, where she grew up. Lake Lanier is a man-made lake comprised of flooded valleys of farmland between higher elevations. I remember Mintz saying at her artist talk that as a child she would float in the lake and imagine flying over all of the large trees, empty farm houses and barns that were submerged, over one hundred feet below water level, when the area was dammed.

"Lighting the Sun" 2007-08 - found glass, monofilament, red clay

It's eerie to imagine the drowned ghost towns at the bottom of the lake. In the show statement Mintz writes: "The land beneath Lake Lanier in North Georgia had been home to Cherokee Indians and the Mississippian Indians before them and to the settlers who followed them both. When the Chestatee and Chattahoochee rivers were dammed to form the lake in 1950, the lowlands were never to be seen again. Houses, barns, farms, churches, and graveyards were moved and saved or left behind and lost forever. Indian paths, hunting grounds and gathering places were covered beneath the rising waters of the rivers."

"Lighting the Sun" - detail

During the recent drought Lake Lanier's water levels have dropped up to 20 feet and Mintz took the rare opportunity to scavenge the banks for remnants of glass, pottery, arrowheads, etc, viewing these as relics of a different time. The installation, "Lighting the Sun," is composed of almost 5000 glass shards which Mintz collected.

"Lighting the Sun" - detail

"Untitled (LTS.C.1)" 2008 -

As companion pieces to the display of found objects, are a series of abstract expressionist paintings in which Mintz seeks to replicate the process of time's passage in nature; the layering of soil, clay, and water, through the layering of oil, paper, dry pigment, and organic material on wood panel.

"Untitled (LTS.C.1)" detail

Mintz describes the works as "collaged paintings, some with as many as 20 layers of paint" which refer to "the archaeological process by which [she] found the objects."

"Untitled (77.P) 2008 - Mixed Media on board

The recent abstract paintings are an interesting evolution beyond Mintz's earlier work, which is more along the lines of the included painting "Untitled (77.P), which depicts the landscape, sky, and/or foliage, using Georgia red clay and other natural materials along with oil paint, silver leaf, and plant impressions.

"Untitled (LTS.G.1) 2008 - oil, paper, dry pigment, organic material on board

These recent paintings take process more into account, Mintz's own meditative quest to understand the passing of time and the natural environment becomes the subject and the paintings are, not only beautiful, but more intelligent and confident.

The color palette for "Untitled (LTS.G.1)" is based off of this found pottery shard.

"Untitled (LTS.G.1) 2008 - detail

Even the sides of the dark wood panels with layers of dripped paint have a visceral appeal. The painting becomes objects as complex and varied as a particularly interesting plot of excavated earth.

(Untitled (LTS.R.1) 2008 - oil, paper, dry pigment, organic material on board

Pictures do these paintings no justice. The endless layering, textures, and changes in color hue, have a startling richness and depth and show off both Mintz's skill with the oil medium and her lasting contemplation of the North Georgia landscape.

(Untitled (LTS.R.1) - detail

These paintings really need to be seen in person.

(Untitled (LTS.R.1) - detail

Show up at Sandler Hudson Gallery through July 12th. Go check it out.


Renna Tuten said...

J- Great account of the work. Your blog has made me interested in art again. Hope you're well. XO - Renna

Jonathan said...

Renna! How about send me an email so I can track you down...



david said...

i love the hanging glass pieces! that's interesting, and a little spooky, about the way the lake was formed; i didn't know about that.

i really appreciate the work you put into this blog, and it makes my day when you make a new post!

Jonathan said...

I spent July 4 at Lake Murray in SC, another man made lake similar to Lanier, and I kept thinking of Mintz's description of the remains at the bottom as I floated in the water. It is spooky.