Friday, February 1, 2013

Scott Alan Evans at MassMu Studio M

"The Great Bear" by Scott Alan Evans...used totally without his permission.

"Terra Imaginara: Mapping the Fantastic"

Scott Alan Evans is a resident artist of Studio 2091 in Cuyahoga Falls and lives in Mogadore, but I think he is a Canton kid at heart. Yeah I know, he is a grown man, but upon viewing his new show, I think his childlike awe and appreciation of the worlds beyond our own are to be a celebrated state of mind. The collection of 16 pieces is based ever so roughly on the concept of maps. Being of the age where one still uses a never to be refolded the same way paper monstrosity of colored lines often leading to an argument in the front seat of a moving car type of map, (trust me, Naggie the navigation device has saved many a marriage) the word “maps” had a different meaning for me. I went in expecting the use of traditional maps in various forms, but found nothing of the sort.  Instead, I found works by an artist who creates his own spaces and places then records them for others to see.  Some are historical in nature while others are beyond earthly boundaries.

First impressions would have one think that this is a group show by many different artists as there is such a variety of media, scale, and content, as well as pallet and purpose. SAE (saving myself some typing time) is exploring his artistic waters, yet to focus on just which river to follow, but that is a good thing as refinement will come with time. Consistent elements are found throughout, from one piece to the next and I could see that given time, he will begin to pull these together. But for now, who cares! Enjoy his energy and passion for places and the text which accompanies many of the works (near and dear to my heart) that provide a much needed foundation for those who might pass by too quickly.

As I looked at various pieces, I kept getting the same vision, one of him lying in the grass as a kid under the darkening sky, making up stories about the stars, weaving tales of imaginary beings and dreaming of things most of us would not understand. That is how Steven Spielberg and George Lucas both credit their creative genius, having spent hours staring up at the ceiling or the stars….. just think’n.  SAE’s works range from a recreated map found in the Hobbit series to a sophisticated digital piece called “Cloud Atlas”.  

Three pieces need extra mention here, first being “The Great Bear” which is a large work on leather, mounted on wood and enhanced with paint and nail head studs. Based on the constellation of the bear, I was taken by the connection between his subject matter and the materials. Leather is a hide from animals, the subtle sheen of the nail heads could be stars and the washed grain of the wood underneath has an atmospheric quality reminiscent of the cosmos.

“Rainbow Kingdom” is a digital print that I do believe is of a slab of asphalt which, before computer embellishment, was stained with oil or other such things. Shapes and colors are then enhanced to become places on a “map”. The way he did this is just enough to make it his own, but not so far as to scream manipulation and force the concept into the viewers face.  “Beach of Venus” is a similar such work on the opposite side of the room. I liked that one too.

My favorite is “The Painted Isle” which is also his postcard image but is far better in person than in print. The work is a remnant of something, worn and salvaged, consisting of layer upon layer upon layer of paint that has then been somewhat pieced together and laid out on a surface to create his own Pangaea. Positive and negative spaces hint at modern day Spain, the British Isles and perhaps Siberia, yet not really. What struck me was how these layers of paint are like the civilizations that have occupied the same lands over centuries and left their marks, their monuments and their memories and upon which we keep building, living and dying. Was this an intentional piece or one of happenstance, I do not know, but it works and it works well.  Congrats on a great show Scott.

The show is up through March 10th.