The Addison: a student reflection

I am not an art aficionado. On the weekends, I go to Ryley and attend football games, except for this past weekend when I visited the Addison Gallery. I wanted to take a look, not just as an Entertainment writer, but as a 16-year-old boy. Removing my bag per order of the guard, I entered the first room on my left. This exhibit was full of photographs that had been cut or ripped and pasted over each other. Interesting, I mused: photographs cropped to give the illusion of one bigger picture. I walked up to a couple looking at a picture of a chair, taken by Robert Rauschenberg. It looked like a typical dorm room item, draped with a towel and clothes. The Addison was wasting their money and my time. That kind of money is better for delicious reception snacks. If for no other reason, visit the Addison on an opening day to get the free drinks and food they have. Glancing at down the hallway at the exhibit dubbed “American Alphabets,” I saw a number of pictures of girls in various articles of clothing and poses, with letters and words describing what they were doing. It was reminded momentarily of picture books from when I was a little kid. But I move to the upstairs gallery with little more thought to my toddler years. Upstairs I found an exhibit I liked: “Early Plate Work” by Jennifer Bartlett. I gathered from the blurb that Bartlett took graph paper, put it onto steel plates, pressed the plates into these square boards, then hand painted little circles into each little graphing square on the board. I walked into the first room and was surprised and happy to see that some pieces caught my eye. She had painted trippy horizontal Matrix-like dot-lines onto her graph paper boards, full of color, and in sequential columns. Her claim to fame, according to the wall placard, is the 987 board painting called “Rhapsody.” In addition to six or seven blank boards, Bartlett had some more crazy color usage and a huge 64 board painting of a house. The house looks like it was drawn by a third grader, but the fact that she filled in each dot on 64 boards to create it is simply amazing. “Rhapsody” is worth your time. I left “Early Plate Work” to check out the Kemper Wing of the Addison. This wing is only for the artistically literate, as most of it is old paintings of landscape or strange splashes and dashes on a canvas. In one room I found a chunk of shiny, silver metal encased in glass. It looked like the very smooth and shiny head and torso of a lizard. I do not know what it is called, but it should be uncased so that people can rub it for good luck like the Lincoln statue in DC. While sitting and admiring the silver thing, I saw a red canvas aptly titled “Abstract Painting, Red.” The artist, Ad Reinhardt, had some quote that read like a vain attempt to justify painting a canvas different shades of the same color. At first I hated it. I tried getting closer. I realized I still hated it. I turned back to the silver object for one last look and then bolted back to “Rhapsody.” The Addison’s exhibits have a few highlights and some diamonds in the rough. Go there for a quick visit, say hello to Mr. Guard, and then move on with your life.