While it was an ugly gray day outside, the gallery space inside was filled with shapes and colors and energy courtesy of Mr. Chris Triner. My overall first impression was that the walls held works by a number of different artists. Unfamiliar with his work beyond individual pieces inclusioned in group shows, I was taken aback by the variety of images to explore. Mr. Triner has the ability to work in a number of different media and styles (although his own signature hand does show through) which is rather common for art teachers because we need to know how to teach a variety of things. Music teachers are the same way, able to toot a bit on any number of instruments, but partial and gifted to one in particular.
My companion’s initial comment was that “he sure likes red a lot” which is great because I do too! There is red in his oils, the watercolors, the monoprint, the mixed media and the water based oils for the most part, sometimes in large rips and tears and other times in subtle chunky brush marks. I am not well versed in the merits of true abstraction, much preferring a hint of some representational imagery, which is why “A Boy and his Art” was my favorite. Back to that one later however, generalities come first. Just like watercolor painting kids, work large to small, light to dark.
Not only can one find a plethora of painting techniques, but a preponderance of presentations as well. (I worked hard to get that alliteration since Mr. Triner is a teacher.) There are traditionally scaled mats in single and double layers, oversized mats, gallery wrap canvases, colored and neutral liners, floated deckle edges and double float deckles also raised from the mounting board. Students can learn how the presentation of a piece can affect an image. I was pleased to see that the pieces were not hung in groupings of style but irritated (to say the least) to find no dates on the pieces. When one works in such diverse renderings, some indication of personal growth would be helpful. I would issue a detention to Mr. T if I could. The foundation of all his pieces rest on a modified grid structure of built up angular building blocks of color. Grids do not have to be even or square, they can be a repetition of shapes that form an underlying pattern, which is the signature structure I extracted from within his pieces.
Of the “City” series of paintings, my absolute favorite was “Utilitarian City”, a 24 x 38 oil painting of what appears to be a smoggy sky over a grouping of dimensional buildings inhabited by house like creatures that reminded me of little kids in stretchy costumes, all lit by an extreme light source that produces intense shadows and overseen by a majestic flag pole. Both fun and somewhat spooky, my mind said “Pittsburgh” for some reason. Next to it is a smaller version that seems like a study for this larger piece yet is independent and interesting all on its own. The “City” pieces have a repetitive shape of a phone pole that in “Decay of a Small Town” appear to melt into the pine tree forms that inhabit his “Valley” pieces. Viewing the “City” piece, I felt the neon lights of a bustling downtown after dark, such as Tokyo or New York viewed through the rainy window of a moving taxi. The tools of application shift within the pieces along the back wall, from brush to pallet knife, to even aggressive and almost violent mauling of the canvas with blood red streaks left behind.
Calmer strokes prevail within the “Valley” series, “Valley” being another one of my favorite pieces. Somewhat spiritual, the glowing sun-like form draws to it the trees (or crosses or figures or whatever you wish to impart upon the markings at hand) with an intensity felt from afar. Likewise, “Pixilated Valley” is best viewed from a few paces back towards the middle of the room. Only then can one appreciate the geological formations and vegetation depicted within the piece. The multiple chunks of color become falling leaves glinting in the sun creating a visual movement that exists only within the viewers mind.
“Structural Faith” is a gem worth standing close to however in order to see the multiple layers of ink drawing, photography, collage, printing, paint and textural surfaces all of which are enhanced by the framing. An oversized white mat creates a window-like view towards the church steeples. The disproportionately large bottom section is a wise choice that reminded me of the optical trick that was part of all mats in the 70’s and 80’s as far as I can recall. We used to add about ½ inch to the width of the bottom of the mat to make it appear to be the same as the other sides. Maybe this is still done and it’s working because I don’t notice any differences anymore. And now back to “A boy and his Art”, my overall pick because of the imagery and the obvious joy emanating from the markings.
Jess Kinsinger’s jewelry creations are also on exhibit. I have far too many pieces so must resist looking too closely at such things or like a crow, I will have to pick up another shiny object for my nest. I did delight in viewing the numerous ways the pieces are displayed from carved mat platters to antique skate boards, from a tin lunch box to a modern grid. Visual merchandising was my fourth paying job at a whopping $3.25 and hour so I pay close attention to how objects are presented. The first thing I ever had to display in order to sell (as a test for my new job) was men’s dress socks. I think my stuffed chicken and nest scene will live in infamy…or else store security was too afraid to let me back out on the streets…..and I went on to teach high school too! Congrats on your show Mr. Triner, it is an inspiring exhibit for your students and the GP as well.