October 4, 2014

The Village Inn

This place is called The Village Inn. College students come in to sip pints of fine microbrews while august professors dine in liberal arts, earth-toned sophistication. The floors are a lovely nicked and weathered hardwood. Large, spherical lampshades hang from the ceiling. The shades are white and they sway just slightly.

 On several walls old posters herald visiting authors and lecturers, with a few framed photographs scattered sporadically throughout. At one end of the room a medium-sized painting hangs high on the wall so that a viewer must crane her neck in order to see it. The painting is tucked into a corner and one of the large hanging lampshades hangs just a few inches from it, almost entirely blocking the view of the painting.

 The painting is not a good painting. It is an amateurish and clunky sort of recycled abstract expressionism. I assume it is an unclaimed student work, but perhaps not. Oddly enough, there is something about the painting and its placement that I do appreciate.

It is entirely without affect there, hung high in the corner and behind a lampshade. And while we could argue about the accuracy of even calling it a work of art, the painting has a clarity of identity that I find rare. We know what to do with the painting, which just so happens to be—not much. It is apparent that the painting is there not to be looked at but to fill an empty space high on the wall. Because amateurish paintings and drawings are as ubiquitous as their claims to be timely and relevant, it is a refreshing thing to stumble upon an act of clarity in the corner of a bar.


June 20, 2014

From John Ballenger’s foreword to Poetic Accumulations – The House Shows by Elizabeth Dark Wiley

It seems important to say from the beginning that there is only a razor thin distance between the works of art in this show and the daily life of the artist, Andrew Hendrixson. What I mean to say is that the art is a direct outgrowth of his life – its particular place and people, its griefs, pleasures, responsibilities, and exasperations – and, I believe, the work is intended to go back into that life, to take up residence there and do something. I have had the great fortune to be present at the intersection of Andrew’s life and work for several years and this has been instructive in the best possible ways.

The challenge of this instruction has been to recognize the pervasive destructiveness of disconnection and disinterest. Maybe we have come to expect the artist to be lost in abstraction, to be disinterested and unmoved by daily life. Such expectations have possibly crept into our thoughts about art itself and robbed our works of art of their capacity to disclose the depths and richness, the sadness and wonder, that is present in each day.

Andrew, through this show, is offering us the opportunity to reevaluate, to reexamine the value and possibilities present in art. That the show is taking place primarily in homes, rather than galleries or museums, underscores Andrew’s assertion that art, as a human endeavor, may indeed hold some value for us as we eat breakfast or talk to our children or struggle with a loved one’s chronic illness.

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The art in this show isn’t easy nor is likely to be thought of as pretty (though, of course, that kind of judgement is highly subjective). It is difficult, yes, much like life. And like life, good art may require a bit of discipline and stillness and time in order to make sense of it. But also, like life, art doesn’t need to be lofty or beyond us, nor we should we need a code to be moved and changed by it.

The brillance of this show is that while it asks some investment of time and thought on your part, it requires the same investment of the artist. You get to ask Andrew questions. You get to participate in a conversation that may help you determine if your investment of time and thought (and maybe a little money) will be worth it. This project – making the artwork, traveling across the country, crafting press releases, showing in homes, talking openly about the experience, even the production of this book in your hands – is being offered with the hope that it may grow into something long lasting. It is being offered as another opportunity to live life more fully.