Casey Gunschel, Jim Dingilian, and Jeremiah Lee | Art review
Packer Schopf Gallery presents three artists with a Depression-era folk-art vibe.
Leather, smoke and cigars dominate Packer Schopf Gallery’s quirky, but successful, first show of the fall season. The three featured artists—Casey Gunschel, Jim Dingilian and Jeremiah Lee—all create objects with a Depression-era, folk-art vibe.
Chicago-based Gunschel masterfully renders fables in leather—her hand-tooled cow hides are a marvel of craftsmanship. Taking center stage is “Ritual Union, a Fairy Story,” a series of five leather hides that depict a mythological narrative of the artist’s own imagining. Here, animal protagonists are rendered in a sleek “Pueblo Deco” style with details inspired by cowboy art and Native American designs.
Equally impressive are Dingilian’s “Smoke Drawings,” a series of outdoor scenes meticulously rendered inside 12 found bottles. Somewhat secretive about his process, Dingilian essentially captures candle smoke inside the vessels, then scrapes away the soot (presumably using “ship in a bottle” tools) to create the drawings. Foreground and background images add an illusion of depth to each scene, transforming the bottles into mini dioramas.
In the gallery’s lower level, Chicago-based Lee presents a series of handcrafted guitars made from cigar boxes. Titled “Deco Sonic,” the working instruments are emblazoned with vibrant designs that evoke folk Deco of the 1930s. Viewers can appreciate the guitars for their aesthetic qualities, but the objects really come to life during musical performances by the artist scheduled throughout the run of the show.
It’s rare to see a gallery exhibit where the work of multiple artists harmonizes so well together, but gallery owner and curator Aron Packer succeeds with his smart choice of complimentary pieces.