“Paperworks,” an art-on-paper exhibition by Sedalians Matt Clouse and Damon Freed, opened July 10 at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts. The men’s pieces demonstrate contrasting styles from Clouse’s smaller framed zen-like pen and ink drawings to Freed’s boldly colored large abstractions.
Matt Clouse: The Zen of lines
Clouse, the registrar and exhibitions director at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art at State Fair Community College, has 12 nine-by-12-inch pen and ink on bristol vellum paper pieces in the show. His non-objective art looks like it was created with articulated, mathematical linear precision. He said that’s not the case.
“There’s a lot of control that goes into what I do, but I start out with a vague idea of what I want to do,” Clouse said. “And then I usually kind of make it a game. For example, I knew I wanted to divide it in two, and I wanted the lines to kind of converge into sort of a central line. I started at the center and moved outward. My game was basically that I wanted to keep the lines as straight as I could, and try not to allow them to touch.”
He added that as he began drawing and moving the lines out from the center it’s basically impossible to keep the lines straight. As more and more lines were placed onto the paper they began to take on a life of their own, picking up a flow that changes the piece into a living creation, filled with a linear pattern.
“They evolve into these sort of shapes,” he said. “And I follow the lines as I go. That’s an example of how I might work.”
Such is the piece “Yes and No, 2014,” which reminds Clouse of a smile that is centralized. It also reminds him of hair flowing down the page and of sound waves.
“I don’t want it to look like anything,” he said. “I want there to be associations, but also I want it to be sort of what it is. I see almost something bigger, like a small part of a bigger idea. Like the lines coming off the paper and going outward, so it’s like you’ve got this little snippet or detail of something bigger that maybe you don’t know what it is.”
The piece “Vast , 2014” makes Clouse feel as though it’s part of a large schematic.
“You’re almost on the edge of something that’s really huge,” he added. “The game that I did with this one, I was going to divide it, but I wanted to bring the lines as close as I could without them touching — if they touched that was okay but I was trying to keep that split happening.”
The piece has a defining linear split near the bottom left third of the page, that Clouse said you can almost “taste.” It is also Clouse’s favorite.
“It has a sumptuous feeling of hugeness, maybe it’s the extra area,” he said. “The curved lines create more surface area.”
Each piece has its own personality, Clouse added.
“It sort of starts out with a different idea,” he said. “And sometimes I know more about where it’s going to go, and sometimes I don’t.”
Sometimes the piece surprises him.
In his piece “Inside Looking In, 2014,” Clouse has cut a few small sections of the paper out the drawing, giving the piece more dimension.
“It was a mistake, and I cut this out, and then I really liked it, so I left it,” he noted. “I like it when it’s matted; you get a unique sense of the background. So it’s almost like this is part of the piece.”
One piece he created looks like an old worn screen from a window or door, titled”Ocean Waves in the Space-Time Continuum Grid, 2013.” This wasn’t his intention.
“I didn’t have any aim,” he said. “I just kind of decided I was going to do wavy lines. I wanted some of the lines to intersect a little bit to get more of that wavy texture. But I didn’t have any particular goal.”
Sometimes his work is a mirror of himself.
“There’s a little bit of suffering in what I do,” Clouse said laughing. “Some of them are really time consuming … sometimes you are drawing lines and that’s therapeutic and other times it feels really labored. And so each piece kind of has this black and white to it, which is very me. I’m like that, very Zen, but also like suffering over here. It make sense that I make these — it’s like I have to make it this way.”
Clouse, who has a bachelors degree in art history from the University of Omaha and a masters in museum studies from the University of Leicester in the U.K., tries not to objectify his work and said he hopes his audience can do the same.
“The first thing people do when they look at art, they want to see something they recognize,” he added. “I’m hoping that people will look at these and sort of observe.”
Damon Freed: abstractions of color
Freed has created 11 large, colorful acrylic and flashe paintings hanging in the exhibit; many of the paintings are 24-by-24-inches.
While painting them, he said he had no particular theme in mind.
“It’s just work, it’s just a continuation,” Freed said. “From one to the next, so there’s no real concept that I was working on.”
Although Freed has worked on paper before, he prefers to paint on canvas with acrylic.
The pieces on exhibit are acyclic and flashe on paper. Freed said flashe is a vinyl based paint, and he likes working with the medium.
“I do, it flows about the same as acrylic, but it has no shine,” he noted. “So it’s pretty flat. Of course there’s acrylic black, the one with what looks like three roses on it, has acrylic on it. It has a slight shine if you stand at an angle and look at it.”
Freed, who has a master’s degree in art from Hunter College in New York, enjoys working with bright colors — often with these pieces using the acrylic without mixing in other colors.
“Most of these colors are out of the tube,” he added. “Some of them are mixed with white others aren’t.”
On “Untitled 8, 2013,” Freed took the tube and drew lines with it along the top and down the center.
As opposed to being an artist favorite, “Untitled 1, 2013,” is Freed’s least favorite in the show, but he said he keeps coming back to it. Made with bold green, pink and orange lines overlaying a grid pattern, the center stands out to the viewer.
“It’s interesting because dad didn’t like this piece at all, when it was finished, it seemed,” he said. “And I’d be curious to know his thoughts now while it’s hanging. I negotiated not hanging it, but Dustin (Schmidt) picked it for the show.”
The pieces in the show he said were created with fun and experimentation in mind, but at present he’s concentrating on drawing.
“Paperworks” will hang until September at LCAA, 111 W. Fifth St. LCAA is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday though Friday. For more information call 827-3228.