The Yield at Heaven Gallery

by Madeleine Bailey

Wilderness, and the rendering of a clear sense of place, is strongly referenced in many of the collected works showcased in 'The Yield'.   Manifested visually by references to trees, tree branches, foliage, and leafy fronds of all sorts, this show at Heaven Gallery brought together over 50 artists who all participated in the 2009 Harold Arts Residency Program.  The work presented is the product of or was inspired by time at this program, which houses emerging and mid-career artists and musicians in Chesterhill, OH.


Karen Bovinich "Limb"

The show, as a massive collection of artists coming from a wide-range of disciplines, is somewhat eclectic and visually crowded.  As part of a weeklong series of events called "The Harvest," the opening spilled over from Heaven Gallery into Johalla Projects across the street.  Among the more memorable works was Karen Bovinich's "Limb," a floor-resting sculpture in which a ream of paper is implausibly held pinned to the wall by the thin figure of a rectangle of particleboard and a tree branch.  Pleasing in its paired-down simplicity, the tension between natural material and manmade product was neatly distilled in this compact work.   


Syniva Whitney "Territory"

Syniva Whitney's "Territory" was presented on a laptop paired with her sculpture, a scab of a weaving whose surface was backlit by a led if you knew how to touch it just right. "Territory," an interactive web project created using html, Flash, and javascript, with text and photographs by Whitney, also features contributions from many artists.  By using an interface of details of body marks and scars, the participant becomes mercilessly trapped in a poetic labyrinth nuanced with purposeful glitches and failures.  Music, text, and image come together in a maximal collage through this 'choose-your-own-adventure' styled project.  In this work of interior and exterior dimensions, exploration of the organic growth of narrative is frustrated alternately by the fluidity and denial of boundaries between sections.  


Alise Spinella

Among other works that caught my eye was Alise Spinella's elegant abstract drawing composed of paper, graphite, and plastic on paper.  Like Whitney, the creation of a quirky world with its own internal logic was represented in this rendering of a tree rising out of an earth of pink plastic and grey mesh, a cross section of landscape that drew together organic and artificial forms and texture.  Outside, Colin Matthe's "Post Tent Sale" firmly held its own on a long brick wall on the roof.  This wall drawing was juxtaposed against the backdrop of the blue line "L" passing frequently, its stark grey and black lines of geometry and scaffolding overtaken by a brightly colored rolling landscape of abstraction.  Ultimately, I left "The Yield" feeling overwhelmed but satiated by the worlds with which I was presented.    


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  • Thanks for the review, Madeleine. I wasn't as fond of the show personally, thought the space could use a good cleaning. My issue with a lot of the work is that lacked originality, a lot of themes and ideas I've seen too many times.

    And one piece, documentation about a group learning how to slaughter and roast a chicken, and the bottom it says, "supported by CAAP grant" (Community Arts Assistance Program Grants) ... so, a city arts grant .. don't any of these people have a relative with a farm who could teach them this? To me it was just a bad mix of "pampered" with "grassroots" that spread throught the exhibit.

    I'm just old enough and cynical enough that I walked through the vast gallery in the heart of a hipster neighborhood wondering who was footing the bill for all this.

    Sorry, just giving my honest feedback.

  • In reply to KathrynBorn:

    Thanks mom.

  • In reply to KathrynBorn:

    nice fish Kathryn.

  • In reply to balls:

    Nice picture of a phone up your butt, Joe Jeffers.

  • In reply to balls:

    I'm sorry bad reviews are allowed in this country, but they are.

  • In reply to balls:

    Hi Kathryn,

    Of course bad reviews are allowed.

    We're sorry that whoever "balls" is chose to react to your response by taking a shot at your work, please don't take it as a reflection our organization's level of maturity.

    You had questions about our funding: Harold Arts is a 501(c)3 organization. We're funded by government and private institutions to a certain extent, but largely we raise funds within our community by working with our artists to present auctions and other fund raising events. Also, our residents pay a tuition to help us subsidize the not-insignificant rental cost of the farm that we inhabit for the residency.

    That said, we operate on a shoe string budget and have worked with Heaven in the capacity of curatorial "residents," not covering the cost of the space, which exists as its own, separate, non-profit entity/living space. It's also been around since pre-gentrification crotch days, and it is our understanding that the rent reflects older property values.

    We do, however, have to cover production costs. The model we use for openings (asking for donations for sponsored beer) covers the cost of prep, shipping, advertisement, etc, so the rest is just lots and lots of volunteer hours. No one who works for/with Harold gets paid, and tons of young folks donate time, work, and resources to to us. Our curatorial stint at Heaven ends with this show; maybe if we're no longer in that neighborhood you won't be so quick to see the work through assumption-clouded economic lenses.

    As for your criticism of the work, while you're of course entitled to your opinion... I'm sorry but "It's been done" is totally overdone as a point of criticism. Obsolescence shouldn't be something anyone's invested in, and I shouldn't have to argue that discussions surrounding the myth of originality are utterly boring.

    Feel free to criticize our artists, we criticize each other all the time, but "not adequate art because should be done on a farm with relatives" strikes me as lazy and a little weird. If you want to take a stand on relational work, or how this piece was enacted in particular, have at it, but what you wrote seemed not very thoughtful, oddly vindictive.

    Thanks for your interest, though.

  • In reply to balls:

    does anyone know where i could find a good tree to get laid with? those harold kids are onto something.

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