Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sneak peek: PPCC's new art show Controlled Calamity

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge De Lane Bredvik's "The Storm Garden." - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • De Lane Bredvik's "The Storm Garden."
Controlled Calamity: Calm & Violence, opening tomorrow night at Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Studio Art Gallery, is one of the most beguiling exhibits I’ve seen in a long time.

Predicated on creating awareness of domestic violence, the four artists in Controlled Calamity present the issue — along with additional topics of self-abuse and violence and control in mass produced imagery — with great restraint and care. The violence of domestic abuse and the control in an unhealthy relationship are on display, but not in ways you’d expect.

That’s the idea, says gallery director Laura BenAmots, “The goal is not to bring someone into the torture chamber. ... The aim of the exhibit is to validate their journey,” she says of the individuals who have escaped abusive relationships.

click to enlarge A detail of De Lane Bredvik's two pieces "Cover-up Girl" (above) and "Drilled, Nailed, Screwed" (below). - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • A detail of De Lane Bredvik's two pieces "Cover-up Girl" (above) and "Drilled, Nailed, Screwed" (below).
Detail of "Drilled, Nailed, Screwed." - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Detail of "Drilled, Nailed, Screwed."
Some, in fact, helped build the large installation in the middle of the gallery, “The Storm Garden” by regional artist De Lane Bredvik. Survivors at a safe house recently helped Bredvik (with facilitator and local artist Wendy Mike) paint a series of translucent fabric panels that encircle an area marked by a spiral of red petals. In the very center, sounds of rain and Gregorian chanting emanate from a speaker as a projector alters the colors of the panels with a slow image of licking fire. The effect is supremely comforting, yet that feels counterintuitive to the nature of the show.

When asked, BenAmots says that while the subject matter is dark, the central theme of the show is one of meditation. “It’s not about saying how horrible things are, but finding solutions.”

Such an angle also keeps the topic from becoming a spectacle, a shock display. Yet it doesn’t go too soft, and while the message remains for “action-oriented, solution-based thinking” as BenAmots says, it doesn’t pander either.

“It captures the pain, but it’s about escape,” she says, adding, “You are in a meditative space you want to deconstruct.”
click to enlarge Kay Williams Johnson's "Dad's Home." - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Kay Williams Johnson's "Dad's Home."
click to enlarge Detail, "The Storm Garden." - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Detail, "The Storm Garden."
Images of beaten men and women appear in another piece by Bredvik, and the terror of family violence is apparent in Kay Williams Johnson’s chilling collage, “Dad's Home.” Latent anxiety from seemingly calm circumstances, made so by force, leak from Johnson’s other works, almost competing with the gentleness and loveliness of “The Storm Garden."

All of which, again, leaves one feeling very different emotions at the same time. Perhaps that’s fitting of the experience of a domestic violence victim, torn apart by feelings of love and fear, familiarity and the unknown.

I don’t know, but this exhibit has given me something of an idea.

Controlled Calamity opens with a reception tomorrow night from 5-7:30 p.m. An artist salon discussion will be held Tues., March 17, 3:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion Thurs., April 16 at 3:30 p.m. The show’s up through April 24.

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