Meet the artists

Introductions II

A Woods Davy rock sculpture seems suspended in air before a Miroslav Antic painting at Stremmel Gallery.

A Woods Davy rock sculpture seems suspended in air before a Miroslav Antic painting at Stremmel Gallery.

Suspension of disbelief comes in handy at Stremmel Gallery’s latest exhibit, Introductions II. A desire to wade through colorful bubbles, to peer into glimmering ponds, into the past and into space is also useful.

Bemused faces meet with what appear to be cardboard boxes on pedestals in the gallery’s north end corner. They look like boxes of gear oil, car wash and an unknown product described in Asian script. They seem like any box stacked in a garage, awaiting the next move or the recycle bin. But these boxes will run you nearly $10,000.

That’s because their maker, Dan Douke, is an artist and a joker. He’s not pulling a Duchamp—the man who turned the art establishment all a-tizzy by offering up a urinal as art. Rather, Douke made a plywood box, layered canvas over it, and painted realistic replicas of cardboard boxes—complete with mailing labels, UPC codes, tape and corrugated texture.

Disbelief is literally suspended with Woods Davy‘s rock sculptures. Riverbed stones defy gravity, seeming to float in the air. A walk around them provides new, dizzying aspects. The stones are held together by a stainless steel rod hidden inside them. Their calming, Zen-like qualities come largely from Davy’s attention to balance and space.

Also taking on a meditative quality, though in a less obvious sense, are John Belingheri’s “dot” paintings. The oil on canvas works contain dozens of buoyant circles, steeped in color. One piece, “Aeolus,” is particularly warm, with citrus oranges, rusty reds and a spectrum of greens.

The deep blues and spare star glows of Dozier Bell’s paintings are dazzling visions of space, but they’re not just pretty pictures. Her use of crosshairs and sight lines show a universe that’s being watched, measured and recorded. With surveillance and warfare, man is meddling with what once was considered the realm of the divine. Bell reminds us that the images we’ve seen of Earth and space are primarily taken for military purposes, and yet, to the average viewer, they’ve opened up the staggering scope and beauty of the universe.

David Kessler creates shimmering scenes of pond life with grassy banks and rippling water. The bluish sheen pervading these paintings comes from their aluminum surface, which Kessler went over with wire brushes and airbrushed paint. The technique produces refracted light, which amplifies the already brilliant colors of the paint.

Moving from water to desert are the paintings of Gordon McConnell. Taken mostly from TV Westerns, the images are a small touch of Picasso’s “Don Quixote” mixed with John Wayne. Painted in black and white, these visions of stagecoaches, horses with flying manes, and shooting cowboys are full of movement. One can almost hear the hoof beats coming and choke on the dust they leave behind.

Rose-colored glasses turn to polka dots and dew drops in Miroslav Antic’s work. He transformed old family photographs—his family at the beach; standing as a young boy with his father—into larger-than-life paintings. He then layered them with confetti-like polka dots mixed with raindrops—condensation on a windowpane with the viewer on the outside looking in. His nostalgia is strong, but it’s sugar-coated through the hazy lens of the present.

The only apparent connection among the artists featured in Introductions II is that none have ever shown at Stremmel before, and none are from Reno. We are being introduced to them and them to us. It’s nice to meet them.