Creating the New Century Opens at the Dayton Art Institute

Mar 12, 2011

In a painting called Opry, braided strands of color start out bright at the top of the canvas but get muddy as they reach the bottom. Art critic and writer Ellie Bronson says that the artist, Bernard Frize likes to play games

"These games have had to do with anything from removing the skins that form on the top of open paint cans and plastering them on a canvas until the can was empty to painting blindfolded directed by an assistant or someone else," says Bronson.

Frize created Opry by passing a paint brush from hand to hand without ever leaving the canvas. It's one of 70 works in Creating the New Century, a new exhbit at the Dayton Art Institute featuring paintings and sculpture made since the year 2000. The artwork comes from the collection of James Dicke, a local businessman.

In another part of the exhibit, there's an painting depicting scenes from two classic movies: The Birds and the Fountainhead. It looks so realistic that at first glance you might think it was a photograph. This painting was created by a team of artists known as McDermott & McGough, and they also like to play games.

Bronson says that David McDermott and Peter McGough make their entire lives a work of art. She calls them time travelers.

"When they first began working together, they lived in the East Village of New York City as though it was London in the Edwardian era. And I think they had no electricity, no running water. They may have conceded to the temperatures in New York and had heat or some sort of wood burning stove, but they drove around town in a horse and buggy," says Bronson.

Not every artist in the exhibit goes to those extremes. But John Alexander does use history as an influence. He based Ship of Fools on a 16th century painting of the same name but gave it a decidedly modern twist. Images of dollar bills and men dressed in suits wearing masks conjures up the financial crisis of the past few years, but Alexander also makes paintings of nature. One of Alexander's rose paintings is part of the Dayton Art Institute's permanent collection.

"Now they have both sides of me - the two sides that the Los Angeles Times said [that] I paint nature at its grandest and man at its worst," says Alexander.

The public can see Ship of Fools and works from other artists from around the world in the Creating the New Century. It's is open through July 10th at the Dayton Art Institute.