Art: Review: Local Color

A group exhibition at Publico redefines regionalism

Publico examines regionalism in the group exhibition Local Color. Four artists and one group of artists present work that's informed by their environments.

The art term local color defines the true color of an object as seen in nature. In the most literal sense, local color exists in Steven Mumford's "Baghdad Journals." While some of his watercolors are painted in sepia tones, others are done in striking true color, the local color of the Iraq desert.

Gallery director Paul Coors calls this work a "displaced regionalism," a dislocation within the exhibition's context.

Local Color presents regionalism obscured and twisted into new realities. Denis Wood, for example, maps out his neighborhood of Boylan Heights in Raleigh, N.C. He picks subjects that are outside the domain of the typical map. It might not be so easy to find your way around Boylan Heights if your map only showed where each jack-o-lantern was located on Halloween night 1982.

Scott Roberts reconciles regionalism with the modern world. His sculpture "Newton Memorial" looks like a Cezanne mountain. In fact, it is a memorial to Isaac Newton's nose. But the sculpture is also a mountain that can theoretically float if enough helium balloons are attached to it.

Regional artists faced a conflict of ideals, as did Isaac Newton. Regionalism was a movement away from industry and technology and a return to a simpler time. Just as regionalists had to reconcile their ideals with the rapidly changing world, so did Newton.

The physicist found a delicate balance between his scientific discoveries and his beliefs. The artists collected in Local Color exhibition do the same.

This is the final regular exhibition at Publico. A fifth anniversary show in January will close the Over-the-Rhine gallery for good. Grade: B+

LOCAL COLOR is on view (by appointment only) at Publico through December. Check details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.