It’s Au Naturel, baby

It’s Au Naturel, baby.

Sticks and glue will break my bones.

Sticks and glue will break my bones. PHOTO COURTESY ART OF THIS

Thomas Q. Johnson

WHAT: Au Naturel WHERE: Art of This, 3506 Nicollet Ave. WHEN: Wednesday 5-8 p.m., Weekends 1-5 p.m., Now- Dec. 6 TICKETS: Free Last week on a warm night in Uptown, a hanging assemblage of sticks and dowels knocked about on its rope as it was pelted with elbows and gestures and the top knots of little girls running underneath it. While this may seem like a strange locus of a social event, it was part of the art installation at the opening of âÄúAu Naturel,âÄù Bruce TapolaâÄôs mixed media exhibit at the Art of This gallery. Nearby was a different hanging sculpture made of plaster and wood and festooned with pinecones. âÄúWithout highlighting any of the things [the piece is made of],âÄù explained John Marks, a co-manager at the Art of This gallery along with David Petersen , âÄúhe mashed them together to create an experience that is totally subjective.âÄù TapolaâÄôs show followed a common trend at Art of This, wherein artists use many different media across the whole gallery space combined into one coherent vision. Marks, who is also the artistic director of the gallery , described this technique as a single medium he calls âÄúthe use of space.âÄù Art of This began in July of 2005 as a way to both showcase emerging local artists and have a place to show their own work, explained Petersen. Since then, it has won the âÄúBest GalleryâÄù award from City Pages and has grown into a booming business as far as nonprofits go. âÄúFrom the beginning of July to the end of August, we had nine different shows,âÄù said Petersen, who attributes the success to the galleryâÄôs habit of presenting the work of many different artists. Despite the success, Petersen reckoned that in art âÄúit is just as likely to fall apart as it is to be wildly successful.âÄù TapolaâÄôs show features both his 2-D painting and collage work as well as his 3-D sculptures. His works mix the pop and the quotidian as well as the natural and the synthetic. The entire gallery creates a blended sense of space. The paintings and sculptures interact with one another as one moves through the gallery. Behind the hanging sticks is a painting in black that reflects their silhouette. On one wall, a painted patterned picture and a long lamp post lean together. Most of the pieces are made with everyday objects âÄî a medium that allows the viewer to view the objects impassively. This makes the works completely open to each individualâÄôs interpretation. âÄúIn many ways it is just an exhibition of the simple.âÄù said Marks. Because of the materials that Tapola used in his art, âÄúit displays how simple it really is to make and produce art with the things around you,âÄù he explained. âÄúThe Twin Cities arts community has been growing rapidly,âÄù added Petersen, who explained that developing artists from the cities no longer feel the need to go to New York or Los Angeles to have a career. âÄúA lot of it is about livability, but itâÄôs more than that too. Things are more accessible for an artist in the Twin Cities because of its size âĦ art here is still raw, itâÄôs not institutionalized.âÄù âÄúAu NaturelâÄù is a little raw and a little man-made, a little old and a little new âÄî it was even being smacked around a little bit. But if thereâÄôs one thing this off-the-wall, abstract exhibit is not, itâÄôs institutionalized.