The Trinity contemporary art gallery of the Historic Arkansas Museum and the hallways outside are hung with art by four artists who know their media and their minds. Nate Powell, mentioned here earlier, is a master of the pen and ink graphic novel and his works, original sketches for pages from his books, show a sure and unique hand. Emily Wood uses plywood as a metaphor for her subject matter — scenes of family relaxing in the country — and as clever way to add atmosphere and texture to her sketchy acrylic and graphite portraits. Jason Powers has perfected the use of the pencil and airbrushed graphite so that he can get right to the point in his work, some of it so detailed and abstract that it would be right at home in the Arkansas Arts Center’s drawing invitational, “Singular Drawings,” works that feature an obsessive line. Tim Imhauser knows exactly what he’s doing with his wood, though of the four he is the only one who is all over the place in style, with neatly turned vessels, bowls with metal inlays and barely worked chunks of wood that have been carved and painted. They have all reached a point in their careers where their footing feels sure, if not rooted in one spot.
Powers’ “The Ritual” — one of the obsessive works — uses abstracted images of animal forms that come from the creepy crawly world of herps and weird animals: fins and spikes and eyeballs and hoses and articulated tails and scales and frogs, things that are drawn beautifully and deeply uncomfortable to look at. (Please forgive the quality of the phone photos that follow.)
In his portraiture, Powers uses a soft line (sometimes airbrushed) to create dimension, so that while we don’t have the satisfaction of seeing the individual strokes the way we would in, say, Chuck Close, there is a sculptural effect. It verges on the superficial at times but is still finely done:
Wood on wood: smiling, warm happy people, the sketchy pretty opposite of Powers’ nightmarish and tightly drawn figures. In a painting of two men, she shows that she can go beyond sketch into more completely rendered faces, as the detail below shows.
One of my favorite Imhauser pieces is called “Tribute to Elizabeth,” as in blacksmith Elizabeth Brim, whose terrific work you might have seen at UALR in the 2009 exhibit “Form Follows Function, Or Does It?” and elsewhere. Imhauser has added a forged iron knob and legs to his spalted ash bowl: