This Past Friday, June 12th, Artscape Gallery Network member Randall Scott Projects in West Baltimore hosted an opening reception for the exhibition titled “Palm Palm,” featuring the works of Charlie Roberts, Kyle Bauer and Karen Yasinsky. Arriving at the reception, I was quick to take photos while the gallery was still quiet, but it soon filled up, attracting a lively, bustling crowd. As the sun set, this indoor-outdoor exhibition was complimented by perfect summer weather, making for a truly lovely evening of beautiful artwork and engaging discussion. Although Charlie Roberts was not in town for the reception, I did have a chance to speak with both Baltimore-based artists Kyle Bauer and Karen Yasinsky about their works in this exhibition, and their lives as artists working in the Baltimore area. Click through for more photos and to read about my interviews with Kyle and Karen.
Randall Scott Projects is a relatively young art gallery in West Baltimore, but clearly they’ve had great luck in featuring works by both internationally renowned artists as well as Baltimore locals on the rise. The front of the gallery was filled with Charlie Roberts’ paintings, with the back room dedicated to Kyle Bauer and outside garden featuring Karen Yasinsky’s video piece playing on a flat screen TV.
In recent years, Kyle Bauer has been very connected with BOPA, as last year he was named a Sondheim Prize Finalist, and this year he is honored again as a Semi-Finalist. I talked to Kyle about his career as an emerging artist and about the pieces he has in this show. If you look up Kyle’s mixed media sculptural work, you’ll find that much of it tends to be quite large, using found components (such as wheels and tassels) as well as ceramic and/or wooden pieces that Kyle painstakingly crafts down to the tiniest details. Looking at his sculptures at Randall Scott Projects, all of which happened to be smaller, wall-hanging pieces, the word that came to mind was “satisfaction.” Every surface finish, every joint and each color is carefully considered and executed to its exact potential, as is Kyle’s intention. This allows the pieces to visually sing, and gives the viewer an immense sense of satisfaction. Talking to Kyle, he seemed pleased at my reaction to his work, as he describes his work as highly focused on the formal – meaning, factors like color relationships and compositional arrangement of visual elements to create a piece that will be aesthetically pleasing to almost any viewer. Craftsmanship is key to Kyle’s work, and he aims to accentuate the beauty of the materials he uses in his work by showing the variety of ways it can be treated and formed. His sculptures can be looked at as 3-dimensional drawings due to the importance of line in all of his pieces – he admits that although he is a sculptor, drawing is a huge part of his studio practice and he carries a sketchbook everywhere.
Kyle Bauer’s works, although definitely focused on craftsmanship and the formal qualities of sculptural composition, are also playful, whimsical, and conceptually grounded. The works on display at Randall Scott Projects are very much in line with the themes in his previous works, including maritime motifs and references to navigation. To see more images of Kyle’s work and read more about his ideas, visit his website at http://kylejbauer.com/.
Heading outside to the garden area, Karen Yasinsky’s video piece, “The Lonely Life of Debby Adams” is on view via flatscreen monitor and dual speakers. The video is built around a sequence showing an adolescent girl, who appears to be lost in thought, unaware and unresponsive to her audience. She adjusts her hair and chews her lip – all the while the camera is positioned at an angle that only shows us as far down as her chin, cropping her awkwardly in the middle. The visual imagery is overlayed with sound that does not sync up to the video – giving the viewer the sense that they may be hearing an inner dialogue or memory inside the girl’s mind. Karen’s video switches between several visual sequences, one of which appears to be a video recording of a TV screen displaying the previous scene of the adolescent girl – which gets the viewer thinking about what they are looking at, i.e. the nature of all film and video in the first place. Karen’s video, “The Lonely Life of Debby Adams,” is an understated critique of the film/video medium as a whole, but also portrays the awkwardness and unpredictability of adolescent-hood – it is beautiful in its flaws. Although I missed Karen at the exhibition, I was able to chat with her on the phone briefly about her and her work in this exhibition.
Karen is a Baltimore-based experimental film maker whose work in recent years has been focused primarily on animation – although “The Lonely Life of Debby Adams” breaks away from this trend. She described her work as always being based on a strong remembered image, sound or motion that usually does not originate from a real life experience, but rather, a piece of a film she sees that sticks with her. In this case, that remembered image comes from a scene of an empty chair in James Benning’s Landscape Suicide (1987). Karen’s process is flowing and dynamic – she does not start out with a sketch or storyboard that she rigidly conforms too, rather, like a memory or dream, she allows the piece to materialize organically. She said this often creates an “editing challenge,” once she has to sit down and piece together a film, but it is a process that informs her work. I ended up watching “The Lonely Life of Debby Adams” three times over, without even realizing – it is a truly engaging video work that is absolutely worth making the trip to see. To see more images of Karen’s work and to read more about her and her ideas, please visit her website at http://www.karenyasinsky.com/.
I am truly delighted to have had the chance to attend such a lively opening reception filled with so much beautiful, thought-provoking artwork. If you have the chance, definitely stop on over at Randall Scott Projects during gallery hours and check out “Palm Palm,” which is on view until July 11th, 2015.
For more information, please visit Randall Scott Projects’ homepage at http://www.randallscottprojects.com/.