Hot Chroma hurts

In further attempts to infiltrate the local Arts Community, student falls increasingly behind

About a year ago exactly, I was a freshman here at the University of Minnesota; trying to understand my place at the college, and simultaneously attempting to understand my place within humanity. Individualism ran rampant through the halls of my freshman dorm, and so did my enthusiasm.

I attempted to connect with everyone in every setting that I could. My fondest memory from early last year was when my friend and I saw the band Beach House, only to fraternize with our peers at the house ‘Sigma Epsilon’ afterwards. Beyond the paradoxical activities I participated in, though, they were true kindred experiences.

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

One of my first Sundays in Minneapolis was spent alongside the Mississippi River with my latest accomplices.  It was a nostalgic, but bright day. The throbbing sun reflected off the still stream as a bittersweet energy encompassed us. I gazed around, noticing the gears churning inside of my new friends’ heads, longing for familiarity.

A girl I was with had wandered to a patch of grass a couple feet away from the river. I sat next to her, and watched as she cultivated an exquisite pattern in her notebook. Quietly asking what the inspiration for the sketch was, I waited for her to interpret her work. After trying to articulate its significance, tears started to silently stream down her cheeks.

The purpose of art became apparent to me in that moment: It’s a vessel for emotion. Though people can express this emotion in quite literally any way, the passion surrounding any sort of creation is reflective of the artist’s existential state. My friend could express her feelings through a design, and couldn’t come up with the words to accompany her emotion. As a communicator myself, I couldn’t relate.

With that being said, I visited another art display in early November. Held at the Soo Visual Arts Gallery in Uptown, I saw the initial night of the Hot Chroma showcase. Hot Chroma features the paintings of Jordan Clark, Kayla Plosz, Matt Reimers and Jeremy Szopinski.

An underlying theme of texture contributed to the physicality of the primarily oil painted work. An underlying impression of stiffness lingered throughout the gallery as well.

It isn’t on me to critique an artist’s form or stylistic techniques. My role as a viewer is to analyze and respond to the sort of emotion that is evoked within me. I also maintain the role of responding to the sense of community in an artistic space. In this specific gallery, I felt cold and disconnected.

I was initially excited to enter the Soo Visual Arts gallery. The space was bright; the doors protruding out of their hinges in an inviting manner. However, this warmth quickly dissipated as I migrated through the scene. Those around me were having personal conversations, and as I stepped closer to certain pieces of work, I got some off-putting glances.

Further hoping to connect with the elusive audience, I made my way to the drink bar so that I could ask the attendant who the curator and artists were. Maybe, I thought, if I spoke to those of importance, I could connect with fellow patrons too. To my dismay, I received an aloof response at the bar.

I felt a little more confident as I talked to the curator of the show. After waiting a while to catch her attention, she seemed preoccupied as she directed me to two artists that were present. She was inviting, but preoccupied.

I first spoke to Jeremy Szopinski. What was interesting to me about Szopinski was that he was very willing to talk, yet had not a lot to disclose about his artwork. In our discussion, he said, “It has strong components of abstract expressionism that combine with elements of geometric abstraction, and the smooth pop surfaces of an artist like Ed Ruscha,” regarding his work.

Evidently, Szopinski had much more to say about his background, and even the Soo Visual Arts gallery itself. Szopinski had attended Pratt Institute in New York, having a lot to say about the arts scene in Brooklyn. He also commented on his place within the Minneapolis arts scene.

“It’s [The Soo Visual Arts Gallery] one of the best galleries in town, I’d say. There aren’t actually a lot of galleries in town anymore, unfortunately. I mean there are, but not enough to support the number of artists,” he commented.

Unfortunately, this discussion contributed to the elitist attitude of the space. I moved on, hoping to become more inspired by artist Kayla Plosz.

Upon walking up to Plosz, I was greeted with an unfortunate and uncomfortable interaction. As I waited for her attention, her friends were shooting glaring stares at me. When Plosz finally addressed me, I felt like more of an outsider than ever.

My conversation with Plosz reflected our initial encounter. Plosz described the inspiration for her art: quilting. Further—the inspiration reflected her family’s long line of participation in the art of quilting. Beyond the work of craftsmanship displayed in her own craftsmanship, there was no evoking of emotions. I left the scene feeling unimpressed.

As I left the gallery, I caught the eye of Pete Driessen, the owner and curator of the TuckUnder Projects, a DIY gallery in South Minneapolis, a space in which I have visited and written about before. In the comfort of his own gallery, Driessen was warm and inviting; however, as we maintained eye contact in passing during this instance, he didn’t return the smile that I offered him in familiarity. This only reiterated the fact that I was in a place where elusiveness reigned.

Concluding my time at the gallery, I was filled with a sense of discontent. I felt lost in this space, and uninspired.