Comments by Josie Osborne (fellow art professional)
It has been an honor to get to work with Gary John Gresl who has been a wonderful support over the years. He was on the jury for the Wisconsin Academy gallery that gave my my first solo show in Madison after graduate school. So it was an honor to share WPCA with him and his powerful installation for this show. I have been thinking a great deal about his work in the show and here are some thoughts...
Gary's John Gresl's work is smart, thoughtful, visually powerful and I would say visionary. It is designed to stimulate and perhaps even ride the line of overwhelming the senses. While it employs many carefully selected older materials and objects, it also uses those objects and materials to create a message about our future, a reflection on our current state...a tale of warning. It is not about the end of the world. It is about now. His history as a painter informs and charges his use of color, texture, light, shape and their orchestrated arrangement. His history as an antique dealer has given him access to a rich pallet. It is this quantity and type of materials that he needs to create such an ambitious, space and time altering experience for his viewer.
From down the hallway, before seeing or entering the space, one can smell the straw that invites and draws the curious viewer in, gives us a preview of something different, and almost overwhelms the senses with natural world, olfactory memories. What faces us when we approach the entrance at first glance is a beautifully crafted collision or dance of the humankind and natural world, caught in a strange frozen moment.
Arranged in a way that alludes to sound and music repeated forms (multiples of oars or giant darts are arranged in rhythmic patterns, taxidermied animals of all kinds (ducks, badger, deer head and coyote) seem to have invaded this space of human kind. it is simultaneously playful and melancholic. It is a natural history museum diorama gone awry.
The straw, loose and bailed, contained by arranged cobblestones unifies this scene and transforms the space into a dreamlike exterior world. Gary is not only a beloved member of Milwaukee's Arts Community and someone who is greatly respected in the state and region, but he is also an accomplished artist whose style of work and material usage means that we do not see this scale of piece from him often (it is so physically ambitious and costly to realize). While I have always loved his work, I believe this to be his best work yet. I hope that many who have not yet done so see this installation before it comes down at Walkers Point Center for the Arts (WPCA) where the show runs through July 9th.
Josie Osborne, August 30, 2016
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