The Schneider Museum has launched its fall exhibition, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and features three male artists — Loren Munk, Nathaniel Meade and Clifford Wilton — as well as highlights from the permanent collection.
In the Entry Gallery is the work of Loren Munk, who launched his career some 35 years ago at the J. Fields Gallery in SoHo. Mr. Munk's work has a distinct, curatorial bent; his pieces show a peculiar configuration of names and movements within the world of art, juxtaposed to present the relationship between each entity and charting a timeline from one school of art to the next, one luminary artist to the other, through diagrammatic visuals that inform but do not particularly inspire.
While these works are are intelligently and meticulously compiled — "The Pollock Matric" from 2009 is particularly thorough and worthy of contemplation — Munk's work serves more as an archival, anthropological mapping of a specific era in the evolution of American art than as art itself. As such, the art academic or deep-diving cultural intellectual may find the work to be informative and thrilling, but the casual observer will likely be left cold.
The work of Nathaniel "Nate" Meade is in the Treehave Gallery. The Massachusetts-born artist received his MFA from the prestigious PRATT Institute in New York and has participated extensively in various national exhibitions, both in group shows as as a solo artist. He currently serves as assistant chairperson of Fine Arts at PRATT. Working primarily with casein on paper, the artist has evolved a series of small but potent figures that are psychologically jarring and emotionally compelling.
His homunculi are reverential to the monolithic statues of the Rapu Nui. His work "Eater" (2017) is dimly reminiscent of Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son." In "Drown" (2017), a Moai-like head sinks beneath a wave that appears to be representative of mental and emotional decline. Meade's work carries a punch and is among the better artworks shown at the Schneider in recent memory.
The Heiter Gallery showcases the work of Clifford Wilton, the London-born and Ashland-based artist who died in 2016. His work is distinctly less risky than that of Munk or Meade — a sort of visual sorbet between meatier courses.
Wilton is definitely a product of his time and has not quite escaped it. His "Sailing" (2006), while well-executed and artistically intelligent, is self-consciously painted in the style and palette of the late 1970s to early '80s. "Paint Can," actually made in the 1980s, is a passable but uninspiring pseudo-homage to Wayne Thibaud. "Green Figure" from 2003 is another throwback that presents as a washed-out version of a Raimonds Staprans picture circa 1975. In the end, Mr. Wilton's technical skill does not dampen a general lack of artistic courage.
The show is interesting as a whole and has some distinctive highlights that warrant a visit. However, one wonders why, in the era of Harvey Weinstein and a resurgent misogyny, the Schneider Museum has elected to show three male artists who — with the exception of Mr. Meade — seem stuck in either ivory-tower art intellectualism or moribund traditionalism, and why women go unrepresented. That's an oversight the museum may want to address in its next seasonal show.
Schneider Museum Fall Exhibition will run from Oct. 6 through Dec. 16 at the museum, 555 Indiana Street, Ashland.
— Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.