Three for all
Danäe Anderson, Tom Uttech and Kenzi Shiokava
A display of peaceful, introspective works by three artists—Danäe Anderson, Tom Uttech and Kenzi Shiokava—is on show at Stremmel Gallery through Feb. 29.
Each artist created work that is introspective and spiritual in nature. Anderson paints from her imagination, creating in the moment. Uttech journeys into the forest for inspiration for his paintings and photos. Shiokava embraces the previous use of his medium to inform his elegant sculptures. Though the artists all draw on the otherworldly for their creative inspiration, the similarity ends there. Uttech paints Outsider Art–like images of creature-filled forests and captures black-and-white images of the wilderness, while Anderson paints sparse, abstract works, and Shiokava shapes large pieces of wood.
Wisconsin-based Uttech’s large and largely detailed paintings are particularly noteworthy. Among others, Enigokwag Aki stands strong. In it, numerous flying creatures of various sizes—from pin-dots to easily identified flying squirrels and birds—as well as swimming creatures in the water below, all headed in the same direction, create a movement, a fleeing, across the canvas. Calming the chaos, as if standing in the eye of the storm, is a bear.
The work, in its complexity and dynamism holds the viewer rapt. The rudimentary to sometimes detailed depiction of the scene adds further interest. Uttech’s paintings, overall, call for a long look—even the simplest ones are filled with interesting detail. The artist came to pursue photography during a period when he was frustrated with painting. His photos are intriguing in their complexity and well composed. Uttech has been recognized nationally and internationally, having shown work around the world. Also notable, he was included in the prestigious Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, in both 1975 and 1977.
As Anderson—a Truckee-based artist—describes it, she creates works from her uncensored conscious, drawing from dreams, memory, experience, language. Her paintings range widely in size, from 72- by 96-inch works on panel to 10- by 10-inch studies on paper, all in oil. They share similar features: large color-field backgrounds, often in earthy tones, onto which she paints or carves in objects and marks. Common objects include flowers, figures, vessels and teeth. The surfaces, thick with medium, are often cracked—a result of the artist keeping the temperature of her studio below freezing, at all times—adding texture to the work. Anderson’s pieces are lovely, verging on decorative. They have a lyrical, playful feel that is accessible and easy to like.
The quietest, though largest pieces in the show—sometimes standing over nine feet tall—are the sculptures by Shiokava. The artist works with found wood. Most of the pieces on show lived a previous life as part of a telephone pole. You can still smell the creosote. Using only hand tools and leaving the wood its natural color, Shiokava chisels, carves and sands into the pole, revealing the grain in smooth, arcing shapes.
At times, he leaves the raw exterior untouched on a side. Here he polishes large scooping shapes into wood, there he chisels in and leaves the surface rough. Throughout, the wood retains the tall, upright nature of a pole. For Shiokava, the history of these poles is important; they retain the energy of the communication they facilitated. The works are beautiful and serene in their own right. Viewed in light of their past, Shiokava transforms each pole from a highly charged, hard-working object to one of calm, releasing pent-up tensions while maintaining a solid stature.