Quappi Projects introduces new art exhibition “A Sort of River of Passing Events”
By Sarah Levitch
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
“Q” is the first thing I see when searching for the entrance to Quappi Projects, just a singular letter that hangs over the entrance to an alleyway in NuLu. “I think this is it!” I remark to my mom who has accompanied me on my trip to view the new exhibit at Quappi Projects, “A Sort of River of Passing Events.” I slowly make my way down the alley and towards the glass doors, a small bird hopping along in front of my feet like an usher leading me to a seat. With a sort of ambiguous entrance, Quappi Projects hides away in a possible attempt to signal towards the veil of reality. Aiming to share “art reflective of the zeitgeist,” I’m not surprised that the contemporary art on display in John Brooks’ gallery brings into question our perceptions of truth, memory and relation, as much of the world nests in a state of evaluation of our past, present and future. How does the flowing of time alter our understanding of the past? Why do we accept the reality and history we are taught as true? If we linger in a space of curiosity, how can we expand our collective knowledge, as well as discover new forms of relating to one another?
If there’s one thing to know before entering this hidden gem, it’s to keep your eyes and mind open. As humans, we have a natural tendency to set expectations and preconceived ideas of anything and everything. The art of Kiah Celeste, Dominic Guarnaschelli and J. Cletus Wilcox on display and for sale at Quappi Projects calls upon the viewer to not only look closely, but also to leave our previous assumptions in the alleyway and challenge the way we perceive and think about art. John Brooks writes in a description of the exhibition, “These artists’ disparate practices converge around ideas related to aesthetics, materiality, abstraction, process and ambiguity of meaning.”
The exhibition exudes underwhelming energy in the vast space and a minimal number of pieces, an energy which provides room for the mind to explore and change. Named after a quote from Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE), the exhibition reminds the viewer that life rests in a constant state of flux. “Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” If the world around us continually changes, then how can we challenge our constructions of reality to change with the tide? Perhaps we must remind ourselves as well that this too shall pass and to, hopefully, learn and grow from our mistakes.
After a brief discourse with Brooks upon entry, I was drawn to my left where Guarnaschelli’s piece Ethics hangs. Employing “archaic book covers with the titles and all references removed, alluding to the changeability of facts and certain kinds of knowledge,” I wonder what I do not see. What book cover is this supposed to be? Through a refusal to reveal his source, Guarnaschelli provokes curiosity, reminding me that in life we should not blindly accept what we’re told or given. Anything can be molded or re-shaped, which is why we must insist upon questioning all that we encounter.
My thoughts led me to a black painting. I read in the description, J. Cletus Wilcox, Heart Sutra, “references a Buddhist sutra: Form is empty, emptiness is form. After careful study, what at first may seem just a void, it reveals itself to be shimmering and full of small gifts.” Intrigued by the blackness, I get closer. Indeed, the black serves as a sort of cloak to a meticulously crafted collage. Upon later research of the Buddhist sutra, I discovered that to be empty means to be full. We may look at a cup without water and say it’s empty, yet the cup is full of air; therefore, the cup is only empty of something, not everything. The deceivingly empty, black canvas obscures a process, a story and a fullness of thought.
On the floor rests three sculptures, but the one I cannot look away from is Gall Blass by Kiah Celeste. Perhaps a play on the words ‘glass’ and ‘ball,’ the piece calls upon the viewer to come down to its level. “Compromised of painterly and subtly beautiful discarded objects, each work is made stable through a balancing act, resulting in combinations that feel destined for each other and possess a palpable and poetic tension.” The unexpected equilibrium Celeste constructs with the croquet balls and glass reflects the delicate balance of society and reveals the repurposed potential of an object once thrown-away.
As my mom grows impatient, ready for lunch, we wave goodbye to Brooks. Emerging from the alley, the small bird hops at my feet again. Re-reading the Aurelius quote evokes another quote by Greek Philosopher Heraclitus: “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” As the river of time flows, change awaits at every passing second and possibility lingers in the waves of emptiness. Rejecting the concept of a singular reality, the art pieces in “A Sort of River of Passing Events” change with the tide. They suggest there is always more than meets the eye and encourage all who come into contact with them to perpetually shift their perspective and question all they encounter.
For more information:
827 E Market St. / 502.295.7118