Art Season Starts Off With “Happy Accidents

Rusinak, Kirsten

Feeling artistically deprived? The first art showing of the academic year opened in the evening on Friday, Sept. 28 at the Wriston Art Center. The opening included a presentation by contemporary artist Todd Chilton, whose work is displayed in the Kohler Gallery. The exhibit runs through Oct. 28.
Chilton said the idea behind his paintings is “handmade geometric abstraction.” In other words, Chilton likes to see what happens when “geometry falls apart.” His interest in imperfection can be explored through drips, crooked lines, and smudges.
Chilton said that the “happy accidents” in his paintings create a sense of imbalance and human interaction, causing viewers to feel like falling over themselves.
Chilton’s concept goes against his training as a landscape artist, as his paintings appear to be part of the wall instead of windows through which the viewers can step inside the scene.
All of Chilton’s paintings were done with one brush, in one sitting, which adds to the possibility of “real and immediate” inaccuracies.
A number of the paintings have names stolen from mathematical textbooks, emphasizing their minimalist quality. The names are also part of Chilton’s dry humor in response to his not-so-successful attempt at a math major.
Director of Exhibits Frank Lewis worked with Chilton’s advisers at the Art Institute of Chicago to bring the artist’s work to Lawrence.
Chilton received his master’s degree in painting from the Art Institute and now teaches there. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in printmaking from Brigham Young University. During his talk, Chilton discussed his transition from printmaking to painting to contemporary work and eventually to his own unique style.
Two other exhibits are being displayed in Wriston currently as well. “The Illuminated Book,” shown in the Leech gallery, is an exhibit that includes three handwritten manuscripts provided by collector Anne Sullivan Nelson to Professor Michael Orr’s advanced art history class.
“These are some of the earliest books she has,” said Lewis. The books date back to before the introduction of moveable type in the 15th century.
Orr’s students were responsible for putting together the exhibit and researching the style and meaning of the pictures and binding.
The gallery aims to incorporate participation from students of all majors to make the research project an opportunity for students to deal with real objects and do first-line research.
The gallery reached a new technological level as well, making this the first exhibit with photographed and digitized pages on a computer screen in the gallery.
The Hoffmaster Gallery is currently exhibiting “Turn of the Century Art and Fashion.”
This past spring, theater students Katrina Schuster, Daniella Cartun, and Elena Flores came across historically valuable costumes in the attic of the theater department.
Upon approaching the art department for archival value, Lewis decided to take it a step further and make a fashion exhibit.
Assistant Professor of Art History Elizabeth Carlson took on the role of exhibit curator and found works of art to juxtapose the costumes. Lawrence graduate Clare Raccuglia contributed to the exhibit by making mannequin forms for the costumes this summer with Assistant Professor of Art Rob Neilson.
If you missed the opening, you still have a chance to see the exhibits — just stop by Wriston Art Center during the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tues. – Fri. and 12-4 p.m. Sat. – Sun.