Do You Remember?

SOO Visual Art Center’s two new exhibits are physical depictions of personal and cultural memory.

PHOTO COURTESY SOO VISUAL ART CENTER.

PHOTO COURTESY SOO VISUAL ART CENTER.

John Sand

âÄúBrokenâÄù and âÄúDonâÄôt Worry, I Have a MapâÄù WHEN: Oct. 9 âÄì Nov. 29 WHERE: Soo Visual Arts Center, 2640 Lyndale Ave. S. Living forever is not possible by means of DNA alteration or cryogenics, but lasting forever in the collective cultural memory is the nearest possible alternative. Memory is not altogether stable, and the way in which the mind separates and distorts recollections can often be difficult to conceptualize. In their exhibitions at the Soo Visual Art Center, proliferative local artists Greg Gossel and Amy Rice have drawn upon retrospection to demonstrate the evolution and layering of memory over time. Suzy Greenberg, executive director of Soo Visual Arts Center and curator of the show, says, âÄúBoth [artists] use similar methods in really different ways.âÄù Employing layering of different media forms and juxtaposition of identical images in different contexts, the artists comment on the mental preservation of personal and cultural icons. RiceâÄôs exhibition âÄúDonâÄôt Worry, I Have a MapâÄù is a trip through her childhood recollections. Her pastel, whimsical work is layered onto custom cut wood panels that hover away from the gallery walls like fleeting thought bubbles in Kawaii comic books. Rice uses Print Gocco , a small, Japanese screen printing device. Several of the same images show up across the gallery wall as interwoven mini-tropes. The stacks of beehives that function as the main display in âÄúTiny SkylineâÄù appear later as a backdrop for a young girl pushing herself along a river in an origami boat. From a large crackled sunflower to a small motor home, the work initially appears structured and uniform because of the repeated imagery and constant color palette. âÄúThe repetition of images and layering really gets into your psyche,âÄù says Greenberg. On further inspection, the subtle differences between each work become more apparent. Some pieces have just one sweeping layer of thin acrylic paint, allowing the texture of the wood canvas to involve itself in the work, while others have several overlaid coats of similar colors of paint, each crackled and thick enough to allow the labyrinth of hues to shine forth. A few works are actually painted on mounted antique journal pages âÄî an addition of RiceâÄôs memory to the recorded memories of others. In the larger portion of the gallery resides âÄúBroken,âÄù the stratified work of artist Greg Gossel. âÄúBrokenâÄù takes a more large-scaled approach to memory, both in physical size and metaphorical scope. His work, including two gigantic, untitled installation pieces, features enormous screen printed reproductions of cultural icons, from Hank Aaron and Michael Jackson to 1970s pulp fiction-esque cartoons that have been re-entered into modern cultural vernacular. One series of five untitled works uses the same image of a blonde comic damsel differently. Each portrait is layered with different backdrops and masks, a comment on the way that one extrapolated memory can impose itself in a variety of ways in the psyche. First, each portrait seems identical because the main image is the same, but thick streaks of black paint dominate one image while text wraps itself around the heroine in another. Like the late Michael Jackson, the newest entry into the bank of cultural consciousness, many phenomena are transformed in collective memory. Though impressions and moments fleet, Rice and Gossel erect monuments to the types of images that pervade personal and cultural memory, shifting our focus to what resides in the mind to how the mind influences what is remembered and how that is depicted.