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8 Naked Minds

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Sometimes where you find art is as much a draw as the art itself. Such is this case with the new show, 8 Naked Minds, located in a recently swept bank of shops on the corner of 6th Avenue and Myrtle Street. Classic Signs Studio and Rocket Neon provide the show with its deeply recessed backdrop both in physical space and organizational opportunity. I got the sense that the show happened simply because creative people spend time in the environment. And while 8 Naked Minds may lack the visual continuity or the consistent quality of more specifically cultivated shows, art tends to stand out in a garage in ways it doesn't in a gallery.

At the center of the show are the paintings of brothers, Marcus and Skyler Pierce. Marcus Pierce has included some large and small figurative works. The smaller pieces take advantage of the visceral qualities of paint while remaining very traditional in perspective and straightforward in subject matter. He has, in a few of these pieces, used some experimental surfaces, creating what come across as paintings that are melting, or better yet, sweating. The larger pieces seem to be less about the quality of paint and more about the quality of metaphor. They are more classical than modern and I would be surprised if both Pierce brothers weren't fans of the Norwegian painter, Odd Nerdrum. In one of the two larger pieces by Marcus we see a naked man moving away from us against a flow of primates. He is checking a timepiece and there is a glow of light on the horizon. We are left to wonder: is the light fading or is it dawning? Though not quite up to the technical mastery of Nerdrum, Marcus' piece seems to share the same desire to capture a portion of the raw, existential, human condition.

Skyler Pierce has contributed a much more experimental body of work, encompassing everything from a very classical looking still life of an avocado to a slightly tortured looking figurative work that instantly brought the British devotee of tragedy, Francis Bacon, to mind. There is a large illustrational piece in which details flow and fill space like sensations, while right around the corner, there are two figure studies rendered in and on a kind of fleshy monotone. Another piece features figures in an energetic and highly stylized hand that brought to mind the taut and electric work of the Austrian expressionist painter, Egon Schiele. Both Pierce brothers appear to be students of painting, and good ones at that. Though this small sample of their work may lack some of the continuity and fully formed vision you find in the old pros, it is interesting and engaging as an example of the real originality and development it points toward.

Also contributing to the show is photographer Jenna Biggs whose work regularly appears in BW's pages. Her pieces are small-format, color photos, a mix of portraiture and urbanscapes, all with a very human quality. Biggs' pictures are of people and of the evidence of people. Her portraits capture people candidly even when the subjects are aware of the camera, and her urbanscapes capture the detritus and evidence of human traffic.

Will Kirkman, of resident business Rocket Neon, is also among the artist lineup with a few neon pieces from his Europa Series. In a dark room it's not hard to imagine these small glass and light sculptures as the sea anemone of deep space. Amy Westover, who has made her mark in the public art arena as well as winning the big prize at Boise Art Museum's last Triennial with a large-scale installation work, has contributed some very sane, musical abstract monoprints. Thomas Verdos of Classic Signs Studio has included some small, mixed media pieces, landscapes and cast stone. Rounding out the eight minds of 8 Naked Minds are Noble Hardesty and Mike Flinn, both of whom I have written about recently.

8 Naked Minds proves that an interesting art show can just happen--in a place that might also be called a garage stop.

8 Naked Minds will be up through the month of November at Classic Design Studios (612 S. 6th St.) and available for viewing weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. More at 336-2769.

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