Last chance to experience "Make Garden" at Instinct Art Gallery

Sean Connaughty

Sean Connaughty

In this frigid weather we're having, Instinct Gallery's exhibition "Make Garden," which closes this weekend, offers the perfect antidote. With work inspired by all things horticultural, the show is a fresh reprieve from the dismal awfulness outside. This Saturday, the space will host a discussion led by art critic Mason Riddle. 

"Make Garden," which was curated by gallery director John Schuerman, turns the concept of the garden inside out as artists mine the idea in diverse and unexpected ways. Pieces include Schuerman's diagram-like renderings of flowers and growing life, and Judy Onofrio's incredible sculptures made out of bones dug up from farms and ranches. 

Onofrio's work, which came out of a response to a cancer scare the artist experienced, uses animal bones to create ornate, overlapping layers. The bones are dried, bleached, and painted mostly white, but also with gold and other colors. For Rose, a piece made out of jawbones, the teeth are gilded ever so slightly, creating a glimmer to the rather frightening-looking petals. Another piece, Basket, transforms bones into material that looks like wicker. Delicate and haunting, the works find beauty in decay.

Sean Connaughty has a few of his floating and underwater terrariums in the show, taking the viewer on a journey inside through the use of a live video feed and windows that offer a peek into the alternate reality in the orbs. Europa Module v5 even has a miniature scuba diver, hanging out amid the plants growing inside the floating object. Especially delightful is Connaughty's Torus Float, which is fully submerged in the water, with tiny little holes that offer just a glance of the growing things inside. Like much of Connaughty's work, the piece inspires an imaginative leap into his underworld.

Another fun artist in the show is John Balsley, whose collage work comes from found images of butterflies, fish, flowers, kitchen knives, and comical human characters. His pieces include three-dimensional paper ornaments offering absurdist, dreamlike scenes. There's also the fantastic Summer Night, a two-dimensional collage depicting a madcap world of caged robots, alien creatures, and a floating mauve moon hidden behind the eccentric foliage. 

John Schuerman has a number of items in the exhibition, ranging from abstract pieces to works that almost seem like they could be in a textbook, creating a sense of order to the chaos that is nature. Schuerman's incredibly realistic-looking leaves, for example, are mapped out in a graph of sorts made out of twigs. 

Other artists featured in the show include Lynn Speaker, Michon Weeks, John Ilg, and Elizabeth Garvey. Garvey's Habitat, with 17 dirt keyholes arranged as if in a garden, and By the sweat of your brow, a hand shovel balanced on a stack of printer paper, represent some of the most conceptual work in the show. 


"Make Garden"

Through January 10

On Saturday, Instinct Gallery will host an artists' talk with Sean Connaughty, Elizabeth Garvey, and John Schuerman, moderated by Mason Riddle from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Instinct Art Gallery

940 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis