The Artist's Medium

Has Halloween come early to the Fox Tax gallery? Can that explain the recent hauntings at the Northeast accounting office: the smudged-out, spectral semi-entities creeping along the walls? Shadow people? Ghosts?  Psychic clouds festering with post-audit stress?

Hardly. It’s new work by Kenneth Steinbach (Form + Content, Circa), the excellent, underrated, conceptually nimble Bethel University art professor. The only ghosts here are the aesthetic kind: subtly and the sublimely ethereal.

In a new batch of solo work, Steinbach takes repetitive ink sketches of everyday objects—up to 50 drawings of, say, the same pair of binoculars or the same typewriter—and fuses them one atop the other in blocks of translucent resin. Think old-school animation cells; the drawings are identical in subject but possessed of their own idiosyncrasies. So when you stack them, you impart a visual vibration, a frenetic rattling that blurs out the original object. Freeze the rattle in resin, and you’ve got yourself a clever stew of abstraction and representation, Impressionism and cartooning, Cubism and collage.

Even cooler: You may have a glimpse into the paranormal life of that typewriter.

Steinbach—who once mounted a show titled “The Ghost in the Machine“—nods to the idea that all things are imbued with mythology, that they are vessels filled with (haunted by?) generation after generation of cultural associations. So maybe the resin technique resurrects this dormant spirit. Each piece could be a mini-seance. Or, if you will, a viewfinder, a tool to peer into the invisible dimensions we move through every day. 

Spooky? You bet. (Cultural theory always is.) But hey, Halloween’s just around the corner. No tricks at the Steinbach show. But it sure sounds like a treat.

“Still There: Works by Kenneth Steinbach”
Opening Reception Saturday, September 8, 6–9 p.m.
The gallery at Fox Tax, 502 First Ave. NE, Mpls.