Walker and Walker
Romanticism: A literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in the 18th century, characterized chiefly by a reaction against neoclassicism and an emphasis on the imagination and emotions, and marked especially in English literature by sensibility and the use of autobiographical material, an exaltation of the primitive and the common man, an appreciation of external nature, an interest in the remote, a predilection for melancholy, and the use in poetry of older verse forms. —Miriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition.
It’s both quiet and heady entering into the space of the Walker and Walker exhibition at Sheppard Gallery, on display through April 4. This is a thought-provoking show as well as a serene venue to experience. It’s a must-see for the ardent art lover, and for the less initiated into art history, it’s a wonderful opportunity to further investigate the historical references the work encompasses. Of note, it is well worth familiarizing oneself with Romanticism to fully appreciate the show.
Walker and Walker are brothers Joe and Pat, who work as collaborative partners. The duo has shown in a variety of countries, including Ireland, England and America. This is their first solo exhibition in the American West. These Irish artists were chosen to represent Ireland in the highly prestigious 51st Venice Biennale International Art Exposition. The show at Sheppard Gallery includes 13 works in a variety of media, including sculpture, sounds, neon, film and mixed-media.
To enter the show is to enter a state of peace and vast openings with overtones of melancholy. Softly lit and simple in presentation, it’s a place of contemplation, an experience to be heard, seen, viewed and felt. The work primarily focuses on space, both earthy landscapes as well as the sky, and one’s place in it. Or, as is stated in the show write-up, “their imagery focuses on landscape as the space for man’s projected soul searching, a complimentary subject matter for Northern Nevada.”
It is not unlike a long solitary walk through the desert from day to night. And throughout, Walker and Walker explore the opposites of light and dark. A factor that points to the success of the show is the fact that it resonates not only just for those educated in the history the work springs from, but also for the casual passer-by. Again, it is as much about the experience one has in the presence of the pieces as it is about the work itself.
There’s “Northern Star,” a single halogen light embedded in the wall at the exact position where the Northern Star would shine in the absence of gallery walls. Thus is the barrier of the room broken down; the work, one simple bulb, encompasses the greater world around and outside the confines of the space. There’s also “Night Drawings,” a series consisting of pages torn from chosen books on which all has been covered in black ink save the letter “o” giving the viewer the feeling of looking into the night sky. The seven-minute video Nightfall—which further explores the ideas of man in nature, light and dark, time and identity—is also worth more than one watch. And don’t forget to take note of the sounds resonating in the gallery—that is “Echo,” the vibrating, moody remaining sound of the Big Bang.
Upcoming, there is greater opportunity to learn about the work. An exhibition catalogue will be available by the middle of the exhibition run, and on April 3, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., internationally known writer William L. Fox will present a closing keynote lecture on the exhibition in the gallery.