The cardboard 3-D glasses supplied for Stuparyk’s work will make the comparison clearer. Put them on and feel like a kid, knowing that this art show is fun and different. A visit feels like an afternoon at the movies. Though there are just three small rooms to see, remember that the artists’ themes are perception and time. It’s possible to get lost awhile.
Stuparyk is the only local artist using anaglyphic (red-blue) 3-D effects in his prints. If the retro glasses don’t induce nostalgia, his over-the-top images reminiscent of B-level horror films will. But in addition to re-creating childhood fun, Stuparyk taps childhood fears as he ponders why we perceive some things as scary.
A shark springs from the cascade at Union Terminal. Dinosaurs stomp through downtown. An octopus wraps around the Tyler Davidson Fountain as the viewer futilely reaches out to touch its tentacles. The adult brain knows that the scene is not real, yet the eyes perceive that something is right there.
Gallery Director Cate Yellig likens the front-room installation to a matinee. Across from Stuparyk’s 3-D pieces are his stark, Pop Art silkscreens of a Tootsie Roll, admission tickets and a $1 bill that looks as if it were clutched by a youngster who waited all week for bargain day at the theater. The dollar appears so real that gallery owner Weston wonders about counterfeiting.
But soon the “grande dame” of Cincinnati art is off like a kid herself to marvel at the Christmas lights behind Patsfall’s “Time Traveling Man.”
Patsfall is this production’s veteran star. The master printmaker founded Over-the-Rhine’s Clay Street Press in 1981, the year Stuparyk was born. Patsfall’s large works (as big as 72-by-60 inches) combine video with etchings, paintings and other media to explore time, threats, history and consumerism from the knowing perspective of a man of a certain age.
Stuparyk, a lecturer in printmaking at Northern Kentucky University, is the up and comer, and he holds his own in his first commercial show. His range of styles is impressive. And now he’s learning even more from the best. Yellig introduced Stuparyk, a Loveland High School grad, to Patsfall a year ago.
Stuparyk further explores the “elements of perception” with his etchings of animals. They are stunning studies of nature and printmaking. Bold strokes depict an owl, a rooster, a rat, a shark in simple black, ivory and gray. There really shouldn’t be anything to fear. But a title page for the collection, “A Portfolio of Etchings Depicting Animals Representing Threats Real and Imagined,” establishes the context for how the works will be perceived. A viewer might remember a spooky owl hooting in the dark during a Cub Scout campout, a rat darting through a subway, a rooster rudely interrupting a lazy country morning. Once these creatures have been labeled as threats, it’s hard to shake that thought.
This feeling of being caught up in a suspense film is heightened by Patsfall’s glowing multimedia works. The artist addresses grown-ups’ fears about life and history slipping away while time speeds by like a locomotive.
Of his six works, three depict timepieces. There’s also the “Time Traveling Man,” combining maps, currency and other souvenirs with a stick figure. Three DVD screens form the face. Tides, like tears, wash over peaceful scenes while a mouth gobbles and expels consumer goods.
Apparently, bodies are hardwired to worry about time. A close look at the face of “Consumer,” which employs the same mesmerizing mouth used in “Time Traveling Man,” reveals it’s made up of images of brains, nerves and skulls. We might regret some of life’s acquisitions and pursuits — cars, toys, sports, even religion — but we can’t help ourselves.
Judging from Patsfall’s works, the obsession about time goes back to the beginning of time: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The figures form the hands of one of Patsfall’s wristwatches, and they appear in another etching with the Tree of Knowledge, where the apples are brains. These two set the mortality clock ticking. Patsfall and Stuparyk are helping us figure out the endings to our own movies.
ELEMENTS OF PERCEPTION is on view at Phyllis Weston Gallery through Nov. 26. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.