“Environmental Aesthetics” is ethereal

Two local artists search for humanity’s reflection in nature.

Minneapolis artist Carey Netherton's work seems so meticulously designed that it must hide some mysterious functional use. 

Minneapolis artist Carey Netherton’s work seems so meticulously designed that it must hide some mysterious functional use. PHOTO COURTESY CAREY NETHERTON

John Sand

âÄúEnvironmental AestheticsâÄù WHERE: The Larson Art Gallery, St. Paul Student Center, 2017 Buford Ave. WHEN: Nov. 19 âÄì Dec. 17 In their new joint exhibition, âÄúEnvironmental Aesthetics,âÄù Minnesota artists Carey Netherton and Michael Eble examine humanityâÄôs interaction with natural recourses and the way that they are adapted to suit our needs. Whether itâÄôs burning fossil fuels for energy or creating unnatural green spaces for pleasure in the center of metropolitan areas, man has never been afraid of pragmatically altering organic material. With insight on an environmental aesthetic, Netheron, a sculpture instructor for the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, works to integrate human materials with once-living organic motifs. Curving tree branches give way to highly structured iron frames, while the results of the intermingling of natural and man-made materials are enormous canvas cylinders. The fabric is stretched around iron to look like some hybrid between a phonograph, a cornucopia and possibly the entrance to a wormhole. These cream funnels are employed in several different ways. In one corner of the gallery, a funnel that resembles the gaping mouth of a deep-sea fish lies connected to aged copper piping. A light bulb shines in the mouth, illuminating whatever depths hide behind the visible throat. Another funnel extends from a plaster head mounted on the wall, possibly as a form of hearing device. NethertonâÄôs hybrid of tree trunks, stretched canvas and rusted materials seem like they should bear some use, but what that might be remains a mystery. It’s hard to tell what should be put inside those misshapen cones or what attempts to escape. The parts of the gallery that arenâÄôt swallowed by NethertonâÄôs sloping works are occupied by paintings by Michael Eble, an associate professor of studio arts at the University of Minnesota-Morris. EbleâÄôs work is inspired by Yosa Buson, the 1700s Japanese poet that worked by traveling and writing succinct poetry about the natural phenomena he experienced. BusonâÄôs work is reflected in EbleâÄôs series of paintings through their hazy dream-like quality. Most of the paintings feature brighter-than-life colors swirled in circles and flower patters. Each painting seems to be a light, magical poem of its own, reflecting the idealization and blurry satisfaction often found in nostalgia. The landscape of the past circles around EbleâÄôs work, infiltrating the memories until they become swirls of color and vivid scenery. From coils of nostalgia to arching rusted pipes, âÄúEnvironmental AestheticsâÄù fights with the way humanity employs natural resources and scenery for its own benefit, whether it ends up tearing the ozone layer in half or introducing foreign flower species into controlled greenhouses.