An eclectic crowd filled into the City Gallery Thursday night for the opening of Contemporary Charleston: Under the Radar. The exhibition showcases the talents of eight up-and-coming local artists offering a range of different but complementary works. The work of so many artists in one space could overwhelm, but City Gallery has managed to present it in a way that is seamless and balanced.
Nina Garner is one of the strongest artists in the show. Her mixed-media compositions, including silver gelatin prints, are relatively small and require a close space between them and the viewer. This gives you the immediate effect of intimacy with her art. As people moved in to view her work, others waited behind for their turn to step forward. This forced intimacy makes for an interesting dynamic and encourages involvement. With so many larger works in the show, Garner’s display begs more attention.
Another favorite is Alan Jackson. He creates drawings that are highly complex arrangements of lines and curves. They are dazzling in their simplicity and visually impressive. When viewed from afar, his work calms the eye.
Jackson’s quiet, hand-drawn pieces are juxtaposed by the flashy and colorful work of Conrad Guevara on the wall opposite. Some of Guevara’s large-scale art requires the aid of movement. A vintage fan on the floor creates a breeze that rustles his shiny silver panels. Metallic strips shimmer in the wind and reveal bright imagery beneath. The small fan doesn’t quite do the pieces justice, and we were encouraged to step up and blow on the work ourselves. The effect was not as impressive as it should be. Hopefully a bigger, better-placed fan will be enlisted to do the job.
Greg Hart’s larger-than-life portrait paintings line the wall on the south side of the gallery. His display projects a unity in form and aesthetic that is lacking in some of the other artists’ work. The portraits definitely exist within a series. His portraits will always be visible and identifiable once you’ve seen this installation. They pack a strong punch with their street art aesthetic and bold use of color.
Under the Radar is a strong exhibit. The judges have spoken and the public will weigh in over the next month. The City Gallery is challenging the community to think outside the box and Under the Radar spoke loud and clear: This is Charleston, and this is contemporary.