David Lefkowitz works with cardboard boxes for "Austerity Plans"

<i>Crevasse</i> by David Lefkowitz

Crevasse by David Lefkowitz

There's a bunch of pizza boxes hung up on the walls of the back gallery at Soo Visual Art Center right now, and they have some art on them. Okay, they aren't pizza boxes, but they definitely have a pizza-box feel to them, as well as a sense of drawings scribbled on napkins at a bar in a moment of inspiration. There's something hurried, even obsessive, about these works. They speak to the most basic urge to create. They are the watercolor drawings that make up David Lefkowitz's "Austerity Plans: Corrugated Drawings," now on view through May 18. 

If we've learned anything since the recession hit over five years ago, it's to practice a bit more thrift in our lives. To this idea, Lefkowitz whole heartedly embraces the idea that you don't need anything fancy to make a piece of art. But it's not just the material that the artist has chosen to paint on that relates to the show's title. The work as a whole speaks to using the imagination, as opposed to worldly goods, as the greatest means of survival. 

The cardboard boxes, which serve as the canvas for these watercolor paintings, are also are the subjects of each piece, as images of boxes, formed to create structures and architecture of imaginary buildings, are painted on the cardboard material. 

Meanwhile the cardboard canvases are themselves architectural, evoking a sense of towering structure. In addition to being the place where the painting lives, they are a kind of sculpture. There's a dialogue then, between how the piece is put together and what it's about, creating an energetic back and forth between them. 

The box as a building brings up an association with cardboard being the lowest form of shelter that a person can use to protect himself from the environment. Lefkowitz creates these rather elaborate designs of building-like structures made up of boxes, offering imaginative possibilities for what these towers of boxes could be. 

Lefkowitz's use of the watercolors is quite subtle, with the colors of the paints blending into the cardboard, at times more like a stain than paint. In some works, like Crevasse, he only uses one color, though he's still able to create a sense of depth. Other pieces, like Extended Art, are much more colorful, but nevertheless retain a sense of simplicity. 

In addition to Lefkowitz's exhibition at SooVAC, Lefkowitz will also be giving a lecture at the Walker Art Center, which owns a number of his cardboard watercolor works, at 6:40 p.m. this Thursday.  

Presented in inconjunction with the Walker's Edward Hopper exhibition, the powerpoint lecture explores the connections between the Hopper exhibition and the work in "Austerity Plans."


"Austerity Plans: Corrugated Boxes"

Soo Visual Art Center

Through May 18