Academics to Hash Out Why Obviously Cool Art is So Sweet

Ah, the artists’ talk. The well-meaning promise of demystification, the too-common descent into windbaggery. Usually, we skip these sorts of things, but Rosalux is promoting a high-minded gab session, featuring the gallery’s two currently showing artists, Laura Stack and Valerie Jenkins, that might just be worth the bike ride to Northeast.

Why? Because we can’t imagine artwork less demanding of an explanation. Or a defense. We certainly didn’t demand either when we first laid eyes on Jenkins’s work, at a satisfying summer show at Weisman Art Museum two years ago. A huge roll of butcher paper dropped like a cartoon tongue from the ceiling and lolled across a gallery floor. Sketched across its yards and yards of surface, in impeccably handled graphite, was a seemingly infinite, Zen-like drawing of a massive tangle of shredded paper. A nest of refuse stretched toward infinity like a non-terminating decimal. Each shoestring strip rendered in photorealistic detail.

The piece was incredible. It was marveled at, the technical drawing chops recognizable to a four-year-old. Its size alone gave it a gravitational pull, but so did the fact that, at a distance, it appeared to be a blurry abstraction, some harmless pattern. In this way, it was like the best wall paper ever—coy as eff, seducing the curious to creep closer and then rewarding them big-time with a subject-matter surprise.

So it’s a drawing about the ordinary. About trash, actually. She drew trash, and she did it in a way that would register instantly with everyone. That’s pretty much an anti-artist’s statement. How’s she going to talk about that?

Well, the whole artists’ talk crew is made up of art profs—Jenkins representing the College of Visual Arts; Stack the U of M; and moderator Shana Kaplow, St. Cloud State—so they’ll no-doubt find a way.

Artists’ Talk with Valerie Jenkins and Laura Stack
Thursday, June 21, 7 p.m.
Rosalux Gallery, 1400 Van Buren St. NE #195, Mpls.