Andrea Benson, Ken Hochfeld, Todd Griffith and Bonnie Meltzer at
325 NW 5 (between Everett and Flanders)
Portland OR 97209
September 2 – 30, 2010
Opening reception 6:00 to 10:00 on First Thursday, September 2
Open house with the artists 4:00 to 7:00 on Thursday, September 16
Inspired by the scientific study “Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String”, four artists, Andrea Benson, Ken Hochfeld, Todd Griffith and Bonnie Meltzer, untangle the theme of intentional and unintentional interconnectedness at Anka Gallery through the month of September. The researchers of the experiment Douglas Smith and Dorian Raymer of the University of California, San Diego, studied knot formation. They dropped a string into a box and tumbled it for 10 seconds. They repeated the process over and over with different sized strings of various flexibility. The results were that knots happen without specifically being tied. It is no surprise to anyone who has crawled under a desk to untangle electronics cords; brushed long curly hair or tried to conquer blackberry brambles; that knots happen without provocation. Furthermore, the longest most flexible strings in the most spacious confinements became most entangled. Stiff short strings in confined spaces don’t knot. Stuff bags work because of the confined space while a big box of many spools of sewing thread is always a tangle.
Metaphorically a tangle is used to describe all manner of social, political and emotional issues and problems. Read the news and see more than one gordian knot that needs to be cut or see examples of the “Butterfly Effect”. On another note, think of love, that magical intertwining of lives. What on the surface might seem like a narrow and somewhat trivial subject matter has become a basis to visually express a host of other subjects — nature, human impact on the environment, the conflicts of growing up and world events. Visually and metaphorically the artists are united by their interest in interconnectedness, fragmentation and the beauty in apparent chaos. The theme ties Hochfeld, Benson, Griffith and Meltzer together into a string quartet but they remain distinct in their use of materials and how they tell the story.
In 2008 Bonnie Meltzer heard about the theory and immediately called Ken Hochfeld whose photographs of thickets seemed like a perfect expression of the theory. They decided to pursue the idea for a group exhibition. A short time later Meltzer invited to the exhibition planning two other artists who she knew through Portland Open Studios. Andrea Benson’s encaustic paintings of unraveling dresses wound into balls of yarn and Todd Griffith’s large paintings of tangled balls of string were perfect additions to Hochfeld’s photography and Meltzer’s tangible tangles of crocheted wire and found objects.. The group met over months and wrote a proposal for the exhibition which is opening at Anka Gallery on September 2.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The very nature of Bonnie Meltzer’s work is an entanglement. She uses “very mixed media” to describe her sculpture which connects multiple techniques and materials (painted wood, found objects and crocheted wire) into one piece. Crocheted wire, a primary technique she uses, is a deliberate and structured knotting in itself but it often ties the disparate elements of a piece together visually and stucturally. In this series she has explored the taming of everyday tangles — hair; phone cords; thread; head and heart; and past and present.
Todd Griffith’s knot paintings and drawings from his series “Transitions and Patience” show controlled chaos. The knots appear to be in nice neat bundles, but on closer inspection the order is illusionary. The string is tangled, and more often than not is escaping from its confines. For Griffith, the knots are metaphors for the confusions, stresses and emotions one faces. The title is apt for this series. Patience is as necessary a character trait for navigating change as it is for unraveling a knotted ball of yarn.
With the series “Threads”, Hochfeld captures a personal interpretation of nature’s lyrical grace and mystery in found and somewhat created, fanciful circumstances. He imagined these photographs of vine entanglements and branches as visual equivalents to short verses, each with its own particular melody, created with expressionistic brush strokes of reality and imagination. To common scenes of what we otherwise interpret as disorder and confusion, he perceives as a sense of balance, rhythm and continuum, as seen through open windows of photographic frames.
Andrea Benson’s figurative mixed media paintings use multiple layers of encaustic and drawing to focus on gesture, stance and a state of mind that is both personal and cultural. In a tattered and constantly ever-changing unraveling world where everything is enmeshed and entangled they explore a point between confusion, entropy and repose.
You can see Entangled through September at Anka Gallery, 325 NW 6 in Portland, Oregon. Two events are planned with the artists: Opening night Thursday, September 2 from 6:00 to 10:00 and Thursday, September 16 from 4:00 to 7:00. Both events are free and open to the public. To see more about the Entangled with pictures of artworks go to the project website at http://www.bonniemeltzer.com/ENTANGLED2/entangled.html