There's not a whole lot of color in "Someone Else's Story," an exhibition featuring four different artists at Burnet Gallery. With desolate landscapes, scribbled text coated in polymer, paper cutouts, and minimalist ceramic pieces, the show seems well suited for its winter opening, as even with a slight warm-weather reprieve, we know we'll be suffering for quite a while yet.
The main source of color comes from several mixed-media pieces by Sonja Peterson, which are populated by an assortment of spring flowers, fish, and birds. Using paper cutouts, as well as gouache, acrylic, colored pencil, and graphite, the works have an element of childlike whimsy, as Petersen journeys to fantastical places full of living creatures and growing things.
But Petersen's most interesting works are in white. There's something about the lack of color in Cull Hull‚ where she depicts a shipwrecked boat entwined in white seaweed, or Try the Tydes, an immensely intricate work of cut paper that really accentuates Petersen's skill and eye. Yes, they kind of look like snowflakes, but they're they coolest snowflakes you've ever seen, complete with scenes that will spark your imagination.
Where Petersen's pieces are joyful, Teo Nguyen's landscapes inspire Chekhovian dreariness. These bleak pictures of country scenes, some of which look like photographs from far away, may very well make you feel just a little more depressed than you were before looking at them. Nguyen captures the vast menacing sky and endless land that appears to be miles from human interaction.
If that has you down, then perhaps you'd like to read some poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Unfortunately, you can't really read the text of the poems in Anne Labovitz's layered paintings, but you get the idea. The works, which use acrylic and polymer on canvas, have the poems scribbled and washed over, with hints of fluorescent colors hidden underneath the layers of plastic. The pieces are actually quite bewitching, drawing you into their peculiar and rather elaborate makeup, despite the elusive meaning of the text.
Finally, there's Tetsuya Yamada's ceramic pieces, dotted with supernatural looking droplets. These colonies of concave holes suggest the remains of some alien settlement. That, or teardrops, depending on your mood.
In all, it's quite a satisfying collection of art. It might not be a super cheerful show, but there's nothing wrong with embracing the season's numbing desolation for a little while longer yet.
IF YOU GO:
"Someone Else's Story"
Through April 26
901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
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