Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sweet Tooth: Review of Diane Hanson and Chris Dennis at Baton Rouge Gallery

Diane Hanson and Chris Dennis
Baton Rouge Gallery February 2 - 28, 2008
- Alex V. Cook

With the landscape around the Baton Rouge Gallery in a state of flux and rerouting, it is fitting that their first show since reopening should feature two artists that come at their subjects from a variety of angles. Minnesota native Diane Hanson’s work takes the idea of place and, through different styles and methods, offers multifaceted portraits of those places. In "Harvest,” images of corn and farm equipment are set out like overlapping photographs with elements bleeding form one section to the next, forming a narrative about agriculture not unlike that of a WPA mural. A series of vibrant, if a bit decorator-friendly, vertical oils act almost as core samples taken from the places depicted in their titles. In "MN-NY-Italy,” a combine, a fire escape and a Roman archway comingle as elements of the images playfully breaking the borders of the image.

The most effective pieces had the most straightforward composition. "Chicago-Minnesota” offered a view of Chicago’s skyline through the door of a corrugated-metal farm outbuilding, capturing the allure the Windy City has on kids from the rural Midwest. Her use of resin over acrylic on wood made the image seem sharp as a photograph from a distance, yet intimate as a drawing up close, reminding me of the painstaking images Chris Ware and Jaime Hernandez utilize in their graphic novels, creating an effect that was at once precise and dreamlike.



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