Walk into Gallery 9 this month and you’ll find mixed media works, a steel sculpture, a charcoal and pastel drawing, oil paintings, kiln-formed glass pieces, a silk screen and a fractal burn wall piece.
And that’s just in the first room of the Mission Arts Building.
Venture down a hallway and into the main gallery and there’s photography, acrylic paintings, a collage, pastels, ceramics and jewelry.
That is a mixture of arts and crafts, mediums and figurative and abstract imagery that’s hard to tie together but entirely appropriate for the exhibition -- Gallery 9’s “Silver Anniversary July Invitational.”
A celebration of 25 years of presenting art in the historic South Ninth Street building that from 1876 to the 1890s housed one of Lincoln’s most successful “sporting houses,” aka a bordello. By 1910, it became the city mission -- the origin of its name. The mission closed in 1987 and six years later was purchased by Judith Andre, who renovated the building into a set of artists studios and galleries.
Gallery 9 opened in 1994 and has been presenting work by its member artists since then -- 25 years of First Fridays and monthly exhibitions, some group shows and some by one or two artists.
For its anniversary show, the gallery invited back former members as guest artists. They include: Chuck Novich, Cathy Patterson, Priscilla Portenier, Gary Pummel, Patrick Rowan, Carolyn Albracht, Julia Lauer-Cheenne, Ronda Esquivel, Jocelyn Fitzgerald, Patty Gallimore, Jeremy Goodding, Jim Jacobi, Valerie Knobel, Marc Kornbluh, Cindy McClellan, Nancy Teague, Ron Swanson, Patricia Schemer, Bill Shaffer, Cindy Chinn, Art Whitton, Beth O’Hanlon and Judy Greff.
From a critical perspective, it’s difficult to write much of an overview of the exhibition, which has no theme, common media or more than two or three works by any artist. So a review becomes an “I liked that” selection that, while pointing out specific objects of note, undersells the exhibition as a whole.
And it is more than likely that pieces that I found of interest won’t appeal to many viewers and those that others like might leave me cold. Such is the nature of all exhibitions, but especially so for nonthemed group shows.
With that caveat, here are few of the pieces -- which have to number well over 100 -- that caught my attention:
* “Nola,” a brightly colored expressionist painting of, I’m guessing from the title, a French Quarter building by Jacobi, a veteran artist and one of Nebraska’s original punk rockers, who now lives in Omaha.
* “Celtic Revisions,” a powerful mixed-media (paint and gold leaf of some sort) piece centered on a cross and slashing thick black lines by Rowan, a retired University of Nebraska-Lincoln art professor.
* “Cell Structure,” a set of a couple dozen tiny mixed-media figures walking about on a white field by Shaffer, who also is represented by a couple very detailed charcoal/pastel drawings -- a portrait and a landscape.
* “Dreaming of Vegas,” an abstracted sculpture of a cowboy made from rebar, horseshoes, horse tack and Harley-Davidson exhaust covers by Scott Grossenbacher.
* And a pair of paintings, Alias Kane’s evocative portrait “Diamond Girl,” and “High Tide,” Patterson’s quartile abstraction.
Those pieces and others make the exhibition, which runs through the end of July, well worth viewing. And the show itself provides an opportunity to congratulate Andre and those who have worked and exhibited there for a quarter century of art.