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Standouts from the Four Bridges Art Festival

March 1, 2009

Originally posted on Thursday April 24, 2008 on vthoward.blogspot.com

The annual Four Bridges Art Festival came to Chattanooga’s First Tennessee Pavilion last weekend. This year’s exhibition, like last year’s, displayed a satisfying range of styles and approaches. I saw artists presenting everything from elaborate bird feather masks that looked like a fancy spin on the erotic Eyes Wide Shut masquerade ball motif to antiqued photos of vintage, family-heirloom appliances, such as bulbous metal fans and blenders. In between these interesting oddities were wood carvings, unusual pottery, neon landscape paintings, some fine photography, and the usual array of Americana-revival, “folk art” spin offs (though the “Johnny Cash guy” gets props, of course).

While I don’t recall noticing a lack of quality at last year’s Four Bridges Festival, this year’s event seemed set apart in one simple way. It was my observation that this time around a larger volume of excitingly original works were on display. Though some of my show-going companions hold degrees in art, I won’t pretend to be more than a beach chair art appreciator, at best. So our group wasn’t exactly a panel of trained critics (though I, of course, may have been the weak link). But when every one us stopped and stared into a certain artist’s booth, quietly “oohing” and “aahing” in collective appreciation, it could only mean one thing: that as far as our aesthetic discernment could tell, this was work of rare talent–you know, something you don’t see that often, be it inside an art show, gallery exhibit, magazine, or elsewhere.

Of those artists, there are two that I still can’t shut up about. The first is Dolan Geiman. The second, Heinrich Toh. I’ve included some of their selected works below in an effort to say, “hey, if you hear either of these guys is doing a show near you, take a rain check on your dinner plans and go see it.”

Both work in mixed media, bringing together stencils, prints, paints, wood, paper, silk-screen, and the like. Geiman is a tad more liberal in his choice of materials, though whatever found object he pulls into his pieces–be it an old extension chord or a broken chair leg–is put to tasteful use, and, in my opinion, always works to an impressive effect. The mixed media bit, however, requires a customary disclaimer. Works of this multifarious sort lose something in the digital transfer that a piece composed solely of paint holds onto more readily: namely, texture. That said, the works of these two gentlemen, when digitalized, still retain their (sometimes arresting) strength as compositions. And on that basis alone, they are worth the time it would take you to scroll down and give them a view:

Butterfly Billboard

Blackbird

Do Re Mi XIV

Aziza III

Montana Matinee

Chesapeake Postcard II

Flight Attendant IV

Uncle Mac’s Crab Shack

Field Guide

To purchase or see more of Dolan Geiman’s works, go here. I wasn’t able to format Heinrich Toh’s works to be blog-postable, so be sure to visit his site.

(It goes without saying that all copyright-type props for the works above go to Dolan Geiman)

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