Two UNL students among 6 featured in Kansas City exhibition

Neil Griess, "Placemats (Charrette), 2011," 25 x 32.5 inches, oil on panel.
Neil Griess, "Placemats (Charrette), 2011," 25 x 32.5 inches, oil on panel.

The work of two UNL art students will be featured in "The Fascinators: The Inaugural Charlotte Street Biennial of Regional BFA/MFA Candidates" exhibition. Only six students were selected to participate in the art exhibition.

The biennial is a new exhibit designed to showcase the work of outstanding artists emerging from colleges and universities within a 200-mile radius of Kansas City. The exhibit is designed to connect up-and-coming artists with Kansas City's art community. The exhibition runs Sept. 2-Oct. 15 at La Esquina, a Charlotte Street Foundation Urban Culture Project venue, 1000 W. 25th St., in Kansas City.

The two students representing UNL are: Matthew Blache, a Master of Fine Arts candidate from New Orleans, La.; and Neil Griess, a Bachelor of Fine Arts student from Omaha.

Rather than a broad survey, this exhibition provides a substantive view of the work of young artists who are either 2011 Bachelor of Fine Arts degree recipients or candidates (completing their BFA degrees this fall) or are currently enrolled in Master of Fine Arts programs.

The other four participating artists are Jacob Banholzer, a BFA student from the University of Kansas; Marie Dougherty and Monica Dixon, BFA students from the Kansas City Art Institute; and Marcus Miers, a BFA student from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

These artists were selected from nearly 100 applicants by jurors Katherine Pill, assistant curator, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and Francesca Wilmott, co-director, Los Caminos, and assistant registrar, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis. The selection process included online application reviews followed by in-person studio visits by the jurors to a short list of 13 semi-finalists from Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

“We saw no end of engaging work in a variety of media, and selecting the final six artists was no easy feat,” wrote Pill and Wilmott in their juror’s statement. “It was not our goal to provide a theme that encompassed the intricate concepts of each exhibited artist, but certain parallels could not be ignored,” they note. “The artists included explore ideas of function, the role of personal narrative in their art, and the draw of everyday, accessible materials. The result is works that deftly bridge material and concept into unique visual vocabularies.”

The exhibition’s title makes reference to the fascinator’s meaning as decorative headpiece — delicate and frivolous; its function not to protect the head, but rather to draw attention to it.

“The work here is not frivolous by any stretch of the imagination,” write Pill and Wilmott, “but many of these artists grapple with ideas of functionality and the use-value of their chosen, rather alluring, materials. All share a keen awareness of the properties of their chosen medium.”

Blache uses materials that are familiar to him, such as steel, maple, and pine, interweaving their functional value with a personal one. With time and study, Blache’s works reveal unexpected narratives that are suggested in the work’s titles, "Gambit" and "Trough." Blache received his BFA from Louisiana Tech University in 2010. His work was recently featured in Counterpoints, an exhibition at Lichen Gallery in Lincoln.

Griess creates hyper-realistic paintings based on miniature sets that he constructs and then photographs, creating a truly uncanny atmosphere of alternative realities that are grounded by familiar structures of urban America. His latest work, "Placemats (Charrette) (2011)," reflects his research interests in new urbanism and how sustainable, functional communities are successfully created. Griess is completing his BFA in studio art with an emphasis is painting this fall. Earlier this year, his work was included in the 2011 Bemis Center Regional Exhibition in Omaha.

Gallery hours for the exhibition are noon to 5 p.m., Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays. The gallery is free and open to the public.

An opening reception is 6 to 9 p.m., Sept. 2 at La Esquina. A panel discussion with the jurors, artists and project advisors will be held at noon, Sept. 3.

- Kathe Andersen, Fine and Performing Arts

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