38th annual UF Art Faculty exhibit shines

Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 11:23 p.m.

With a new year and a new semester in full swing, area art venues are striving to keep the pace.

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"Landmaelingar Island," by Robert Mueller, is the largest piece - at more than 16 feet high - in the 38th Annual Art University of Florida Faculty Exhibition. The exhibit is at the University Gallery.

JULES KEITH/Special to The Sun

The University Gallery is hosting its 38th Annual Art Faculty Exhibition, which showcases 27 faculty members of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida.

Works are beautiful, poignant, angry, cutting-edge and even humorous. Traditional paintings are exhibited beside mixed-media and multi-media installations, sculpture, ceramics, collage and photography; the diversity is breathtaking.

The largest piece in the exhibition is a mixed-media installation by Robert Mueller, a faculty member best known for his lithography, intaglio and collaborative printmaking. In "Landmaelingar Island" (Icelandic for "Landsurvey Iceland"), Mueller's scale explodes to more than 16 feet high.

"This work is the result of two lengthy periods of time spent alone in the remote terrains of Iceland," Mueller noted. "Long days of daylight, challenging weather conditions, limited food sources and varied landforms enhanced and supported the unusual states of mind that I came to know."

Resembling a giant sail or soaring mountain, the piece floats upon buckets of water. Mueller calls it an "artist book."

"The muslin pages with their spines are supported from above by parachute chord. The pages are drop cloths made of muslin from India," he explained. "The stitching is a result of corrective measures and is used as a means of meditation and time to reflect, until the time is right to make the next move."

Perhaps the sail and mountain imagery are not so far off. Mueller speaks of narrating "a journey inwards, which resonates with the wind torn, isolated, desolate and solitary nature of the wilds of Iceland. This is a piece about the moral and ethical choices made in the past and present and the ability to dump and release the weight of this imagined and real phantom cargo. The structure of the piece resonates and has an affinity to tents, mountains and rivers."

Astonishing to view and saturated with the artist's personal experiences in a forbidding land, "Landmaelingar Island" is just one of many pieces that will stay with you long after leaving the exhibition.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sean Miller's installation of a book accompanied by photographs is small in scale and, depending on the viewer's political leanings, either hilarious or shameful. The display is open to interpretation.

"A Charge to Keep" documents Miller's journey through a book - and the book's journey through Miller.

The book in question is George W. Bush's "A Charge To Keep: My Journey to the White House." Since February, Miller has been cutting up the book along a grid and, well, devouring the contents.

"As portions of the book are cut and removed, I record the printed words and eat them. I intend to completely consume the book by the time Bush leaves office," Miller said. The eaten words are recorded to be reorganized into a revised text. Miller is documenting the entire process in photos.

"I have eaten most of the book raw, although I do occasionally include pieces of the book with Bologna sandwiches or with tacos. These are foods that George W. mentioned he enjoys."

This year's faculty exhibition may bring a tear to your eye, a smile to your face and a sense of wonder within you. Perhaps, you may shake your head in disbelief. But you will leave knowing that UF's Art Faculty members are brilliant, creative and, yes, very funny.

The opening reception runs 7-9 tonight. The University Gallery is on SW 13th Street at 4th Avenue.

  • The Harn's newest exhibition, The Culture of Violence, frankly explores and questions various forms of violence in our society.

    The 25 artists approach this subject from a variety of perspectives - personal experience, social critique and memorials. Spanning 20 years, the exhibition includes works by such figures as Andy Warhol, Leon Golub and Barbara Kruger, as well as lesser-known talents.

    The Harn recognizes the unsettling and intense nature of the exhibit and has partnered with community agencies to present it in an educational manner. Special programs will accompany the exhibit, beginning with the Culture of Violence Playback Theater, presented by Shands at UF Arts in Medicine Artists and Performers, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Harn. This is a guided, interactive experience to facilitate communication of the exhibit. A Gallery Talk with the Harn's curator of contemporary art, Kerry Oliver-Smith, is scheduled at 3 p.m. on Feb. 2.

    The exhibit opens Tuesday.

  • New Gainesville gallery Still Life in G is showcasing the work of Atlanta-based artist Joel Barr. Nine Years of Looking for Good Signs is an exuberantly whimsical retrospective drenched with color.

    An opening reception will be 4--10 p.m. Saturday. If you haven't found your way to Still Life in G yet, do it Saturday and enjoy food, wine and the opportunity to meet the artist. The gallery is on the south side of Union Street Station.

  • The McIntosh Icehouse Gallery in McIntosh will feature local studio and plein air artists - as well as some new local artists - in its upcoming exhibit. 2003, Hope and Renewal includes landscapes, still lifes and figurative paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor, as well as a presentation of wood-fired clay sculpture.

    An open house is scheduled for Feb. 1 from 6-10 p.m. The Icehouse Gallery is 16 miles south of Gainesville along U.S. 441.

    Michelle Benatti can be reached at mbenatti@bellsouth.net.

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