We’re in this Together: “Spiraling Jete (Up)” at Green Gallery EastApril 2nd, 2012 |
Who is this masked man in red, the dude leaping onto the gallery walls (via a video sculpture) that projects, then reflects (as if it is thinking), and then beautifully reproduces itself on the back room walls at Green Gallery East? Break Out of the Cube. Break Out of the Cube. Break out of the White Cube.
Is it Sam Lowry, the meek chap who escaped the Department of Records in Brazil? Or perhaps the Secret Choreographer who devised the video sculpture is a reincarnation of Harry Tuttle, the DiNiro character who rappelled up and down in order to save ordinary man (and woman) from spending their lives in cubicles. Brazil is my favorite flick of all times. It’s Nicholas Frank’s fave too. We’re in it together.
Frank stands before me clad in red. Two decades ago when he strolled into the Art Muscle Magazine offices on 10th & National, his mission was to learn how to design the magazine’s ads. A mere youth in his twenties, before long he audaciously declared he wanted to take charge of an entire issue. I resisted. He won and we remain friends. Even then he wanted to do far more than run Hermetic Gallery in Riverwest, though he continues to live in the area. He casts a wide net because the gallery life, face it, can be its own kind of grind, a confining cubicle, sometimes of white.
In 2012, Frank finds himself at mid-career, having labored the hard way to the top of the art heap. I ask him if he wanted to be an “art star” back then. He did. “I wanted to prove to my parents that I could succeed,” he said. And he wanted to connect other artists via the integration of the arts. It’s not a new idea, but the time was right and Frank was there to make it happen. Only a few artists in our town got the message.
Our conversation moves to the front gallery of Green East, where we discover our fave painting at the Milwaukee Art Museum is Cy Twombly’s Untitled, wherein a rectangle floats on a blackboard-like ground, leaving plenty of room to fill in conceptual blanks. In addition to being a fine artist, Frank is an interesting writer. A copy of his book (Sound of the Horn) waits near a modernist white bench on the south gallery wall. I can think of no one more qualified to teach (full time!) in the Integrated Studio Arts at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where he landed following his exit as UWM Inova’s curator.
”It was my dream job,” he muses. I find myself musing about Sam Lowry and how his dreams carried him above and beyond the soul-crushing reality of the day to day grind where Big Institutions rule ruthlessly, never mind those crushed in the rush.
I study the white canvas grid on Green’s floor, a grid covered with here a brush stroke, there a brush strok. Frank tells me this installation, Spiraling Jete (Up), is intended to educate viewers about the “process” of making art and how it evolves from dreams to ideas and in many ways, back to dreams again. It’s such a simple idea. Re-visiting what I once believed lifts my soul.
Prior to the closing on April 15, there will be a special April 7 event. In the meantime, Frank will continue his quest behind GGEast’s glassy windows.
Green Gallery East is at 1500 N. Farwell Ave.