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A Fop's Banquet: An Exhibition in Three Acts

1. Destruction: Michael Davidson, "Rocket Goes on a Mission"

2. Re-configuration: Ashley Morgan

3. Growth: Lynn Tomaszewski, Will Pergl 

June 14 - July 28, 2012

Portrait Society Gallery is pleased to announce the final exhibition in its current space. On Gallery Night, we will be celebrating the end of an era as the gallery will close on July 29 for a brief interlude during its deconstruction and rebuilding. A brand new spankin’  Portrait Society compound will re-open in mid September to late September.

Three installations in three rooms currently address the themes of Destruction, Re-configuration and Growth. A fourth exhibition/installation/event, A Fop’s Banquet, takes place in a new secret gallery room, hosted and created by Jack Eigel and Skully Gustafson. The Fop’s Banquet will come alive gallery night and inspire revelry and happiness (in a time when those conditions seem in short supply).

Some additional notes on the installations:

Re-configuration: Ashley Morgan 

In the gallery’s “white room” Ashley Morgan has put her gentle touch toward turning the space into an slightly haunting room that feels part memoriam and part elegantly configured living room, but one made of dream fragments. Working from the historic file of Minimalism, Ashley anchors some of those concepts (truth to materials, simplicity of form) to found objects or things that carry the charge of past lives and other lived-in places. In this installation, she reconfigures pieces of ceiling molding by cutting them apart and gluing them back together. These gentle interventions feel tender and a little sad in that they address how the notions of solidity, wholeness, lastingness are tenuous at best.

In one piece called “A Pair,” 2012, she balances two rungs of a rocking chair in an empty white frame. The legs can be moved further apart or closer together, they might tilt or lean, depending on the mood of the viewer. These two pieces of an old rocking chair take on the metaphor of co-existence and its precarious arrangements. In another piece (Steady, 2012), eight vintage legs of end tables form a composition by balancing on one another.  At once poised and beautiful in its simplicity, even a strong breeze might topple the sculpture.  Again, beauty and impermanence join hands. Ashley’s room of “Reconfiguration,” as a whole, might remind us of the delicate balance of any arrangement. No matter how profoundly meaningful or sweetly benign, things fall apart. We glue them back together the best we can or we use the pieces to assemble new works.

Destruction: Michael Davidson, "Rocket Goes on a Mission"

Michael Davidson is mainly known as an abstract painter who, with a leap of daring, has moved back into crafting this sculptural installation at Portrait Society. In setting the stage, he has removed the carpet, taken out the lights, lined the walls with velvet theatre curtains.


Titled “Rocket Goes on a Mission,” we enter a theatrical setting where a wooden pier extends across the room and at the end stands a steel sculpture that seems vaguely figurative. Broken, uneven, displaced, this ‘figure’ takes a step toward a mirror and attempts to assess the reflection. There is a down pouring of water, however, that obscures the view, as well as stains and dirt on the mirror. But, there is also a place where the shadow cast from the sculpture opens up a rather clean, piercing view. Two benches provide places to sit in the installation where the viewer can relax and commune in the room as the darkness and the sound of the water engulfs the senses. One can interpret this installation in a number of ways. The way I see it is that Rocket has come to a place in his/her life and pauses to try to see his own reflection, asking the same question that we ask in different ways, all our lives: who am I and what have I become?  Rocket is a little withered and broken and holds some dried flowers (memories) in one ‘arm.’ The act of trying to see feels courageous and futile and funny at the same time. Destruction, in this sense, is a normal state we all endure as we walk down the pier of time and personal history.

As a work of art, “Rocket Goes on a Mission” does a nice job of breaking down categories. Davidson sees it as much as a play as that of a fixed object. It is staged more than installed and if it recalls any associations, it might be Jean Tinguely and his wonderful kinetic assemblages.

Lynn Tomaszewski and Will Pergl: Growth

Both Tomaszewski and Pergl teach at the Miwlaukee Institute of Art and Design and who would have thought that their work would unite in such a seamless conversation. Tomaszewski presents two large-scale works on paper on opposing walls in the gallery’s front room. One work is a drawing of small circles that float, open and gain densities. She has abstracted the overall pattern from an image of a flock of starlings. Lynn is interested in natural formations in nature, the structures that expand and dissipate and the shapes that they take. Her other work features a pile of colorful dots that form a mound on the bottom of a large white sheet. This piece, called “Pile, 2” 2012 (5 x 4 ft.), recalls a garbage dump, but in candy colors. The attraction and addiction we have to plastic and alluring non biodegradable objects is both compelling and repelling.

In the same room, sculptor Will Pergl contributes a wall piece called “Drop.” Made out of wood, painted blue with a pattern of round bumps, this object is simple and elegantly formal, and yet goofy because it is, indeed, an abstraction of a rain drop. In some ways, in its enlarged and displayed form, it speaks of that great transformative moment when art allows us to make leaps from an object into zones of possibilities and interpretations.

Pergl has two other pieces in the show: One is a floor piece called “Mass” that resembles a giant black tongue with lots of bumps or welts. Texture, mass, density, darkness and an organic shape draw us in to wonder about this “thing” that has no function yet seems to demand a presence in the space in a stubborn, insistent manner.

Fop’s Banquet

The Fop’s Banquet Room is an installation by Jack Eigel and Skully Gustafson. They have created a dining room of  spirit and aplomb, a joyous, over-the-top, explosion. The Banquet Room will frame the gallery’s final celebration and provide the proper place for saying goodbye and beginning anew.

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