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Going off the rails 

What Moves You?
6-11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19 at
CityArts Factory
29 S. Orange Ave.

Where does a journey begin and end?

For each of the artists showing work in this week's Third Thursday opening at City Arts Factory, that question has a different answer. The show features installations by 15 local "deep thinkers," including Andrew White, Brigan Gresh, Dina Mack, Kyle, Patrick Greene and Kimberly DH Walz. The artists were invited to create work using transportation as a theme and given four weeks to come up with something for the show.

It's an unusual show because galleries in Orlando tend to avoid installation art. It eats up too much space, doesn't sell very well and is labor intensive. Plus, for many viewers, conceptual art looks weird. The goal of the artist is to convey an idea without creating a traditional art object, so it's up to the viewer to translate the assemblage for parts to get the artist's message. In other words, it takes work.

But CityArts Factory was approached by a group of master's students from the University of Central Florida's Digital Media and Studio Art program. They had a tricked-out 10-foot sphere they had made for a class project and wanted to show it off. The giant ball, called "Connections," lights up with projected images and videos. According to an artists' statement from its creators, Dave Moran, Jillian Perez Dudziak and Gary Seymour Jr., it was made to "promote awareness about how the mobility of a community transforms the land and its people." The sphere was the seed for What Moves You?

Leah Buchy, events organizer for CityArts Factory, says she had a hole in her August exhibition schedule so she consulted with some friends in the arts community; the show rolled out pretty organically from there. Kimberly DH Walz, a conceptual artist and part of the RS 21 art collective, put her in touch with some conceptual-arts comrades, both oldsters and newcomers. Jennifer Quigley, a powerhouse at Downtown Arts District Inc., which operates CityArts Factory, pushed the transportation theme and gained support for the show from the city of Orlando, the Downtown Development Board, MetroPlan Orlando, SunRail, High Speed Rail and others.

During the opening, Pine Street along the south side of CityArts Factory will be cordoned off and "Connections" will be situated outside as a beacon to draw people into the exhibit. The gallery will stay open until 11 p.m. that evening, two hours later than its usual closing time.

Two of the artists exhibiting in What Moves You, Kyle and Greene, will share a gallery in the show. Kyle, a teacher and former resident artist at Maitland Art Center, says his contribution, "Unsafe at Any Speed," will re-create a "transient camp site" that he hopes will make viewers feel like they're outdoors at night. The effect, he says, should be "a little spooky." He says the piece is critical of the fact that Orlando — which he says is a transient place — doesn't have light rail and "the absurdity that we are still talking about it."

For his piece, "Memoirs From a Selective Memory — the History Lesson," Greene delved into his past. This is the third installment in a series rooted in a family story. "My father decided to show my cousin the back roads of Florida," he writes in his artist's statement, "a history lesson and a way to avoid the police." He never heard the real ending of his cousin's tale until after his father died last year: After 13 hours of scenic joy riding, police arrested him for driving a stolen car.

Greene describes the mood of his installation as "kind of a dream state." The only literal component of the story can be seen in a video of an abandoned car on the side of the road. There's some "loneliness," and "a little bit of absurdity in the construction," he says of the work. "I do think `my father` would have appreciated it."

Brigan Gresh and Andrew White are also sharing a gallery. Gresh and White are married, and though they work individually, there's often crossover in their pieces.

"We start projects that we think are going to be separate," says Gresh. "Inevitably we are drawn back to each other, sharing the space together, knowing our sensibilities are together."

White says his piece, "Perambulation," is a video installation "surveying movement and the often unseen emotion within it." Gresh's work, "Ridership," leads viewers to a corner of the room; the goal is to make a statement on "the average quantity of passengers (‘patrons') carried per certain time in a mode of public transit system."

This will be the last Orlando exhibition together for Gresh and White, at least for a while. After 15 years of living in College Park, the couple is moving away. "We've always been about our arts community," says Gresh, "but it doesn't seem to want to grow. It seems to want to stay at the same size. It starts to grow and it starts to expand … and then it putters out again and it comes down to that same size again."

The departure of White and Gresh parallels the essence of the argument for public transportation and this show: If you can't move, you can't grow.

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