When Ice Cube Gallery's Icebreaker show opens today, you'll be seeing only the tip of an iceberg of entries that arrived for the juried national showcase that's now in its sixth year. It took an exceptionally able eye to whittle more than 1,000 entries down to 60 works by 43 artists for the show, and Ice Cube found one in Lauren Wright, a former local now back in town to curate the 2015 Biennial of the Americas. So think of Icebreaker 6 -- a show she describes as "a dense abstraction of our present time" -- not only as a chance to see what's new and exciting on a national front, but also as a first look at Wright's curatorial style. Keep reading for a condensed sneak peek at the work she chose.
"Judgmental Cat vs. Minimalism," the diptych greeting you as you enter, encompasses much of what I think preoccupies the selected artists. It's the ubiquitous cute or crazy cat of YouTube: technology is a theme, and the way it mediates our world. It's a portrait of sorts, a distillation of some personality. The cat faces off against a fluorescent void, the minimal form of the landscapes that reappear throughout. Its blankness is meticulous, as are other works in their detail. Despite this emptiness, the canvas nevertheless vibrates as others do with some energy of now, of fashion and fun. Yet there's something mysterious, unsettling, and basically strange about the work, and about the whole ensemble here. Like our present - difficult to describe, but you can feel it.
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Attend a reception for Icebreaker 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, January 9, at Ice Cube Gallery; the exhibit then runs through January 31. Lauren Wright will also present a gallery talk at 2 p.m. on January 17; go to the gallery website for details.
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