High-quality work defines Mint Gallery group show

Art Review

“Here to Go”

Through Feb. 8. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. Free. Mint Gallery, 636 North Highland Avenue, NE. 770.595.4248, www.mintatl.org

The artists represented in the Mint Gallery group show “Here to Go” were selected by husband and wife Atlanta artists and Georgia State professors Pam Longobardi and Craig Dongoski from an open call to artists across the country. Despite, or perhaps because they cast such a wide net—1,000 works were submitted—the curators have come up with a high-quality group of artists, both local and national.

The show’s premise is the construction of reality, “the potential to customize and produce one’s own reality has become actual,” the curators write.

Invention, including self-invention, is a leitmotif in “Here to Go,” with technology often lending a helping hand in digitally-manipulated photos, whether the fantastic, imaginative landscapes in Jessye McDowell’s 3D modeled images or the strangely enticing short videos about the agonies and ecstasies of love featured in an online series from Naomi O’Donnell.

In the age of the selfie, when everyone is striving to concoct an ideal vision of self, several artists in “Here to Go” upend the representative potential of the portrait, blurring, mutating and digitally manipulating it into near oblivion. Piling gobs of paint into tiny mountains that obscure features, Joshua Duncan’s “Natural Perception Face XII” is the inversion of every celebrity Photoshopped magazine cover that strives to deliver the best, most flattering view of the human form. Painter Marissa Graziano’s both eerie and comical “Nostalgia” is a double-exposure oil on canvas painting that mediates on not just how identity is in flux, but how our perceptions alter through the lens of time. Full of charm, Shelly Bradon’s stitching together of a child’s rudimentary drawing of a colorful, chubby body to which the artist has added a realistic portrait of the child’s head, blends the creativity of every child with a celebration of this particular child.

Inspired, oddball machines are another particularly satisfying component of “Here to Go.” Georgia State artist Mary Stuart Hall has created a magical, homemade music box in “Acoustic Waypoints” in which typically hidden mechanics are revealed: a ticker tape player piano scroll of paper moves in and out of three wooden boxes, passing through the mechanisms that produce the music: the punched-out dots on the paper project a beautiful disco globe of light onto the wall in Hall’s lyrical device. A similar inventive poetry defines Karen Niemczyk‘s hall of mirrors, “Melancholy” a table top circuitry of prisms, mirrors and LED colored lights that beam a remarkable array of visual effects throughout this invention focused on perception.

There’s a winking, irreverent tone to much of the work, a sense of considering the concepts of the past through jaded contemporary eyes. A highlight in this regard is Stacy Rexrode’s exceedingly clever imitation of regal blue and white Delft pottery in “Quasi-Delft Bequest.” From a distance, an array of square and round Delft china appears to hang like a domestic tableaux on the wall. Using a permanent marker on plastic plates, Rexrode draws iconic scenes of windmills and countryside—all of the decorative flourishes of the Dutch pottery—but slips in smoke-belching nuclear reactors, plastic water bottles, wind turbines and skyscrapers into the pastoral backdrops.

Constructed reality of a different sort pulsates in Cary Reeder’s narcotically banal “High Noon,” an image of a seductively pristine home with the subtlest shadow playing against its placid blue-green surface. Reeder captures the hoped for perfection of a planned, and manicured community, showing—like much of the work—how artists can both mock and reaffirm a desire for an ideal, perfect view.