Abstract Friends

trio of artist friends stage diverse exhibition

Thom Fountain, photos by Andrea Paulseth

TRIPLE THREAT. Though they all work in the abstract, artists David Brock, Kari Tarr, and Mike Tarr cover a wide range of styles and media.
TRIPLE THREAT. Though they all work in the abstract, artists David Brock, Kari Tarr, and
Mike Tarr cover a wide range of styles and media.

Kari Tarr, Mike Tarr and David Brock have a lot in common. All three attended Bowling Green University in Ohio (though at different times). They each teach art at local university (the Tarrs at UW-Stout and Brock at UW-Eau Claire). And now the three will be sharing a show at the Janet Carson Gallery at The State Theatre this winter.

Bowling Green University has strong ties to UW-Stout, with a number of professors over recent years having experience with the Ohio university and a joint faculty show last year.

While the three artists work in very different styles and media, Kari Tarr said she still believes there will be good conversations between the pieces. All three artists are working in more abstract forms, though with very different results.

The three artists’ work in the show is vastly different, but it all works together in a unique way.

Mike Tarr’s work consists of repetitive geometric drawings that have been toner transferred onto paper. The transfer technique gives each final piece a grungy, worn appearance that strikes a contrast to the straight, hard angles. The colorless prints are minimal and simple, with vast negative space around each drawing, including the paper itself in the work of art.

On the other end of the color spectrum is Kari Tarr’s work. Her installation piece consists of a variety of small, square pieces covered in different colors of glitter. The work is a homage to the renowned color theorist Josef Albers, who produced hundreds of paintings consisting of four squares inset in each other. Tarr’s work follows this same pattern, except substituting glitter for the paint Albers used. Tarr said she was looking to recreate Albers’ work with a feminist lens.

David Brock – who is also the gallery coordinator at the Janet Carson Gallery – will be showing a series of acrylic paintings that actually come out of his time at Bowling Green. While he had done quite a bit of work with oil, painting cityscapes and buildings, the rural Ohio land didn’t lend him much city to work with. Because of this, his paintings began to take an abstract look at the rolling farm fields around the campus.

The three artists’ work in the show is vastly different, but it all works together in a unique way. You can see the experimentation of color in both David Brock and Kari Tarr’s work, the strong lines and geometric shapes in Kari and Mike Tarr’s pieces and use of broad space in all three. So while on the surface this seems to be a show connected only by friends and a shared past, the art itself may prove to make a stronger connection.

Kari Tarr, Mike Tarr and David Brock’s show runs at the Janet Carson Gallery at The State Theatre, 316 Eau Claire St., from Jan. 4 to Jan. 31. An artist reception will be Jan. 17 at 6pm.

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