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Making statements

Pennsylvania artists works on display in Chambersburg

Pennsylvania artists works on display in Chambersburg

August 01, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

kevinc@herald-mail.com

The horizontal image rests, unassuming, on the gallery wall, three square panels each painted with a different colored pill.

Created in the wake of September 11, the painting, "Homeland Defense," presents the viewer with one square depicting a Zoloft capsule, another a Paxil, the third a Prozac pill.

It is a wry commentary on current events that has elicited chuckles from New York City to Chambersburg, Pa., in recent months, though the artist also looks at it as an empathetic piece reflecting on what is sometimes needed to cope with tragedy.

"I just noticed more and more people, almost half the people I knew, were on some sort of anti-depressant," says Chambersburg painter Ski Holm. "And the idea was that was the first line of defense, nothing to fear but fear itself."

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Based on observation, the Long Island native's work tends to evolve into series of images revolving around a central theme. His works take a single topic and deconstruct it in as many ways possible, like light reflected from a prism.

With pottery by Waynesboro, Pa., artist Jack Middour, Holm's art has been on display at the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts since June 20.

"His paintings are not just decorative, they make a strong statement graphically but they also have a sense of theme and humor you don't see all too often," says gallery director Anne Finucane. "The more abstract ones I love because I know how difficult that is to do, to create an image that is both abstract and real at the same time."

Holm's Up series, for instance, pictures life from a set of eyes tilted upwards 45 degrees or so. In the Corn series, depicting everything from fields meeting at an intersection to man's influence on corn: Three ears wrapped for sale; a bowl of cream corn; and a container of corn holders.

He takes photos of his subjects and tends to work in spurts, painting constantly for two months, for instance, before going twice as long without, all the while sketching ideas, photographing subjects and refining ideas in his mind.

"I just kept noticing corn. It's tough to be around here and not notice corn and the more you're around it the more intriguing it becomes. It's just so tall and huge and frightening in some instances," Holm, 44, says. "And it's all man-made in one season, from a seed to enormous."

This is not the first time Holm and Middour have been paired in an exhibit. When the arts council moved into its previous location, the duo were part of a three-way exhibition.

Finucane says Middour's unique sculpted pieces provide a sharp counterpoint to Holm's surreal, sometimes off-kilter view of the world. His work ranges from six small pots, each with a wildly expressive face sculpted into the side, to larger containers with fine detail such as leaves around the upper rim and rope handles attached to the sides.

"Ski's pieces are so strong that I need a three-dimensional form of art that can stand up and be visually attention-getting as well," Finucane says. "And Jack's pottery is, well, it's subtle in it's coloring, the forms are arresting and the humor he expresses with faces and lizards make a strong statement."

An art instructor, Holm says he has moved into series work from straight landscapes because of the freedom they provide, which might seem odd considering how constricting focusing on one topic could be.

But Holm says the opposite is true.

"What it is, is taking an idea and expanding on it and bringing it to its conclusion, working it to death," he says. "I find it more fulfilling in the end."

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