Moving Forward

Moving forward
What Moves You?
Through Sept. 11 at CityArts Factory
29 S. Orange Ave.

Never mind the early evening storms, there was a bigger-than-usual crowd at the Aug. 19 Third Thursday at CityArts Factory where several hundred people turned out to see installations by 12 local conceptual artists invited to riff on a transportation theme. Pine Street was closed to accommodate the "Connections" project by UCF graduate students Brittany Metz, Jillian Perez Dudziak, Dave Moran and Gary Seymour Jr. — a 10-foot sphere situated in the street with text messages and images projected onto it. With no indoor space large enough to display the globe, it was a one-night special, leaving the inside installations on view until Sept. 11 and well-worth an investigation.

Feeling a bit like a Fellini movie, What Moves You? combines truth and fiction with nonsequential plot twists and a pluralistic, highly personal cluster of visions that reveal a great deal about the artists as well as our community. Stephen A.G. Carey, Jessica Earley, Pat Greene, Brigan Gresh, Kyle, Derek Larson, Greg Liebowitz, Dina Mack, Brittany Metz, Kimberly D.H. Walz, Andrew White and Leslie Williams all jolt and jostle into the viewer's mind, using the concept of movement as an excuse to make art. Tongue-in-cheek detours involve firecrackers, space travel and the police, yet sublime moments arise from interwoven, transitory and
unseen elements.

In the entryway of CityArts Factory, digital images and dry site maps take a sizeable chunk of space to display the real-life proposed SunRail stops coming to Orlando in 2013. Neither inspiring nor particularly relevant, their position and extent is daunting; if they had been curated by the artists, they might have been more interesting.

The good stuff starts as you wander farther inside and find Metz's fantasy world of larger-than-life transportation toys, colorfully set inside a blackened room. Outside, Walz's minimalist platform of flashing lights, sounds and clocks conjure a rehearsal for a train experience. In counterpoint are Carey's in-your-face sculptures; his manipulations of consumerist debris read coldly against the artist Kyle's (no last name) warm, texturally soft quilted railroad maps. Carey's tall "Transient" figure appears in an open, antiseptic white coat revealing a "skeleton" fashioned from clear plastic bottles and toys that bear a glittery, empty hollowness.

In the former classroom area sits another of Kyle's contributions, an unexpectedly feminine interpretation of a homeless campsite that is endearingly soft and inviting, a departure from his previous studies of catastrophes. His "Unsafe at Any Speed" is a haphazard, chaotic homage to Ralph Nader's great 1960s exposé of the auto industry. On the other side of the room, in hilarious contrast, Greene's video of a 1960s parked car, vehicles whizzing by, serves as a tribute to a family story about his father and a stolen car. The video is planted, so to speak, in a bed made of real sod and asphalt. Kyle and Greene's projects communicate together, making this atmospheric room one of the best in the show.

Across the hall, Mack and Larson command the interior of the room, while Liebowitz's "Orlando Bike Kitchen Project" occupies the space by the window. The collection of bike frames have a muscular, robust aesthetic completely at odds with Mack's delicate, intimate "Transplant," for which she uprooted small plants and juxtaposed them against a wall with an unbound diary to reveal incremental aspects of time. Mack's sensibility tends toward the tiny, the temporary and the thin, yet her work carries great strength in its simplicity and the humanity that reads through it. Larson's odd woodworks titled "Interweaving Reasons" involve a wildly rotating turntable under a mirror, slapping a poor sprig of grass around. His area reads at different scales, capturing space and suggesting motion and patterns. The overall effect in this room is like the imaginable friction between Emily Dickinson and Marcel Duchamp trapped in a grease bay and would be less troubling if the bikes had their own visual territory.

Entering the back suite, Williams' "Fast Supper" shows a frog devouring mice fashioned from black Mary Jane shoes. Shrine-like and a bit hasty looking, the best part is the frog's curiously misshapen teeth. Earley's "Step This Way" comprises a pair of dramatic videos; crude cardboard space ships cover dual projectors, while the grainy mock-promotional footage subversively takes us on an inner journey while suggesting the escapism of travel to the moon will cure one's anxious ills. The emotional experience is an inauspicious setup, its gritty nature in contrast to the highly refined work next door.

"Ridership" and "Perambulation" by Brigan Gresh and Drew White, respectively, bring it home. Designed separately, the pieces flow together seamlessly. These ritual works involve movement of hospital trolleys, escalators and a portly man walking slowly. All the elements evoke emotions intensified by the obstacles between the door and the giant Blu-ray screen. Gresh's railroad spikes set in hay and suspended brass telephone bells direct you to small destinations — a tiny school bus here, a tiny compass there. In the sure hands of this husband-and-wife team, the viewer is rewarded with a coherent, compelling installation that has Gresh's and White's trademark contemplative, somewhat ominous texture.

With a growing collective résumé, these artists took chances, and despite some unfortunate physical contrasts, What Moves You? works. Hopefully other galleries in town will catch up with their vision.

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