Another residency year comes to an end this month. It seems we have had a season of reflection (in varying degrees) recently: the Red Lodge Clay Center’s five year anniversary this May, the Archie Bray Foundation’s 6oth anniversary last week, the returning cycle of the Bob and Elaine Shay’s residency and exhibition, Russell Wrankle’s return a year later with his own Artist Invite group and now the residents we have spent the last year with will soon be on their way.
Allen Chen, Jonathan Fitz, Daniel Garretson and Brett Kern mounted an exhibit this month that is wholly reflective of their evolution this year. Garretson puts it most succinctly and accurately when he says the work is exactly what it should be for where he is. The residency program, as many of you know, is the entire reason for and inspiration behind Red Lodge Clay Center. Please take a moment to view and consider the early steps of promising careers. Kern’s embrace of our inner child reaches for melancholic layers of adult-onset nostalgia now. His kaleidoscopic woodpile is a powerful step forward, demonstrating technical prowess, compositional command and most importantly conceptual restraint. Garretson’s robust and resilient functional ware has been pared to the perceived essentials. It has been observed as straightforward with elegant proportions. Throughout the year Fitz’s functional foray has been describe as “smart”. When one chooses to accept the premise of these objects and loose oneself in the indulgent material revelry, one sees objects refusing to be taken for granted. What began in the studio as a lark has evolved into purposeful and consistent execution. “Convergence” is the next step in Chen’s interest in the boundaries defining the biological and the mechanical. His installations cavort and consume space, invoking an industrial ballet.
Now what? Kern begins an adjunct position at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. Chen will be a resident at the Lawrence Art Center in Kansas. Garretson will pursue his MFA at Alfred University. Fitz will also continue his academic investigations in pursuit of an MFA at Ohio State University.
Each still fluid.
Wait. Just wait.