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Going to high school in Lower Manhattan allowed me to visit the many galleries in Tribeca and Soho with friends after school. But I’d only ever visited photo galleries. So when I found out I would be viewing paintings on display in Chelsea with my MHC class, I was thrilled.

We began with two highly interactive exhibits at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. The first artist housed here is a stream-of-consciousness painter, Jorge Queiroz. I first dismissed them as elaborate doodles on canvas, but on second look found myself pulled into his work. His paintings are quite fun to enjoy. You let your eyes rest on a part of the canvas, and let Queiroz’s lines lead your eyes across the work, playing with associations and images. The second artist, Ryan Johnson, also plays with his observers. He brings together the real and everyday (in this case, sneakers) with the fantastic. These associations made me laugh sometimes, and I saw the same reaction from others around me.

Other exhibits we saw played with elements and techniques we had discussed in class, such as using space to draw in the viewer (Brice Marden) and pulling art away from the boundaries of the canvas (Kim Dorland). But the exhibit I found most interesting and unique was Kent Dorn’s work. He is one of a line of artists who push the boundaries between painting and sculpture. The landscape backgrounds of his pieces were beautifully executed. There is no doubt that Dorland is a very talented artist. But he experiments with depth. In addition to utilizing perspective and color to create depth, he uses physical material. In one painting, Dorn painted a figure with his back turned to us, and piled paint onto the figure’s back (in the same texture as the rest of the figure’s shirt, interestingly enough). So the figure originates within the canvas, and is pulled out of it by Dorn’s brush. He uses this same technique to make a statement, making his work so much more meaningful. Dorn has an assortment of beautiful landscapes onto which he has globbed his signature paint-forms. This brings the reaction of disgust and horror – how can such a beautiful scene be destroyed by what he has thrown onto it – garbage? This is where he makes his environmentalist statement. I also think it is meaningful that in the trashed-environment paintings, nature is what is kept in the distance, locked in the canvas, while the parts of the painting pulled into our world are the nasty ones. Perhaps in this way Dorland hoped to convey the despair of the world we have been left with.

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