It takes patience and vision to sift through nearly 150 pieces of student-made artwork. For this year’s Student Juried Art Show, juror Brandon Reintjes called it a “revelation.”
Reintjes, the senior curator at the Missoula Art Museum, ended up picking around 70 pieces for the final show, up in UM's Gallery of Visual Arts.
“Some of them fit the show better than others,” Reintjes said. “We just went through and tried to select for the space with the idea of doing a more open exhibition.”
The space is taken up with several large-scale pieces, like Jerod Peitsmeyer’s “Desk Chair from the Secretary of Interior,” a chair with chains reaching about 15 feet across the gallery, or Zoe Sykora’s sculptures “Web of Waste” and “Unpacked,” which are made of plastic and cardboard.
Esme Brudre-Jamigo’s “Tea Set Chess Set of the Russian Civil War” is what it sounds like — two ceramic tea sets painted with colors and symbols of the Bolshevik and “Whites” factions squared off on a large chessboard.
“Foot Fetish I Think” by Jesse Kwasney is a massive acrylic painting that depicts, in poppy colors and psychedelic tones, that fetishistic sexual encounter.
Those huge pieces — among several — space the gallery with smaller works in between, making for a busy, but not cluttered, viewing experience. The show will take time to walk through and it takes focus to see just one piece with others tempting your peripheral field of vision.
“The overall quality is really strong,” Reintjes noted.
Some of those three-dimensional pieces took a bit of Reintjes’ imagination to envision on the floor — remember, they were initially crammed into the gallery with twice as many pieces.
“Call Waiting” is a good example of one that revealed more depth to Reintjes once it was set up. The piece depicts an old-fashioned wall-mounted rotary telephone that has been sitting for so long that rusted, steel-wool mold covers its surface.
There are rust marks on the wall and floor where the receiver hung for years before someone placed it on a wire-wrapped stool.
Reintjes also handed out awards to some of the pieces, along with honorable mentions for others.
“I tended to favor work that was issue-driven, either centered around identity politics, political process or human rights, because these topics are vital,” he wrote in his juror’s statement.
Reintjes wanted to recognize the topical pieces, but also found it important to highlight what young artists think is important — political or societal commentary has always been important in art, and is especially common in this generation.
“You really get to be familiar with the students,” Reintjes said. “It’s always pretty important to see what the trends are, what they’re grappling with.”
That extends from the political to the punny.
Reintjes was quite taken with Andrea Morowic’s painting of a boy with antlers titled “My Deerest One” as well as Izabel Roe’s “Smart Ass,” a ceramic rear end dotted with Smarties candy pieces.
“I think she’s the only one that cast her butt,” gallery director Cathryn Mallory noted.
That cast hangs on the wall, an extension of the white plaster, curves covered with pastel candies.
“It didn’t look very good on the floor, but once we held it up,” Reintjes said, “it was really compelling.”