Abstract painting on thrift store shirts….funky dresses created from fashion industry scraps…. paintings culled directly from the earth…. It’s all included in the work of five artists showing through April 28 at CSPS Hall. In observation of upcoming Earth Day and the Cedar Rapids Eco-fest, these artists focus on ecological themes, often using recycled and reclaimed materials to dazzling effect. A First Friday artist reception is planned this Friday from 5 to 7 pm with several of the artists in attendance.
Exhibiting artists include Melissa Lockwood, New York City; TJ Moberg, Des Moines; Madai Taylor, Fort Dodge; Royal Jarmon, Cedar Rapids, and Barry Anderson, Kansas City.
On the first Friday of each month CSPS unveils new exhibits, along with selected films, live music, snacks and a cash bar. First Fridays at CSPS are free and open to all.
Melissa Lockwood, Club Room Gallery
Cedar Rapids native Melissa Lockwood opens IQ TEST, an exhibit of fashions created from scrap fabric discarded by the garment industry. The wearable dresses and skirts are handmade and each piece is unique. Many of the pieces feature Melissa’s original art work, hand-drawn with nontoxic fabric marker or paint.
A self-taught fashion designer, Melissa holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the University of Iowa. The use of scrap fabric allows Melissa to cut costs and comment on consumer culture while producing fun, wearable fashions. “For me this is primarily about the message: raising awareness about the environmental impacts of the mass disposal of textiles,” she says. “I became a fashion designer by surprise.” The final product is always determined by the unique characteristics of the fabric scraps she finds.
Melissa will lead a workshop on creating clothing from reclaimed fabric on Wednesday, April 17, and a fashion show on Friday, April 19, both at CSPS.
Madai Taylor, Main Gallery
Fort Dodge’s Madai Taylor is both an artist and minister. He has developed an artistic process he calls “primitive scripture,” using the dirt from local fields, the famous Fort Dodge gypsum mines and the Mississippi Delta red dirt of his youth.
“Dirt contains rare tones, gradations and textures that lend themselves to an immense range of possibilities,” he told The Iowan magazine. “No other medium lends itself so well toward expressing infinite space and spiritual universes beyond the visible world. Dirt is timeless and of the soul.”
Madai mixes the dirt with gesso as a bonding agent and then applies it in layers over large sheets of cold-press paper. Before each layer dries, he paints reductively, “scratching out his vision with twigs, sticks, wires, yard rakes, teaspoons, high-pressure hoses, fingers and fingernails. He once completed an entire painting with only a rake.”
TJ Moberg, Main Gallery
Co-owner of Des Moines’ Moberg Gallery, TJ Moberg has been creating public and corporate art and private commissions for over 15 years.
His mixed media collages involve pouring recycled paint into an array of molds (everything from childhood toys to cell phones). He then strips out the dried paint and layers the results (skins) into frames, which he then covers with epoxy resin and treats with a blow torch.
“Artist friends of mine tell me they are excited to see someone doing something different with paint,” he says. “I’m just excited to be creating works of art that are like nothing else I have created. I want to keep pushing my own comfort levels and not get complacent with successful work but keep trying to create something new every time.”
Royal Jarmon, Commons Gallery
Royal Jarmon is a California-born, self-taught artist now living in Cedar Rapids. Celebrated for his playful, mixed media figurative works, Royal’s CSPS exhibit, Beware of Love, features abstract painting on thrift store shirts. “I look for designs and patterns that carry some sort of nostalgia, memory or popular cultural aspect,” he explains. “I stretch and seal the surfaces to get some depth and a desired effect to carry my color fields. For this exhibit, I wanted to merge our awareness of objects and waste and how that affects our consciousness in relationships and defines how we relate to people or even how we ‘love.’”
Barry Anderson, Digital Gallery
Barry Anderson’s video works are immersive environments, washing over the viewer with images that journey across the frame at a measured pace. His videos have the impact of a painting in the way they engage and pull in the viewer. Subject matter is mined from the collective unconscious (from pulp fiction to pop culture), creating new associations.
Barry’s CSPS debut, “Junk Yard,” is a slow-rolling tour of pop culture idols set adrift in a gallery of abandonment . Born in Texas, Anderson, received an MFA from the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.