Fringe With Benefits Visual Arts Gallery Review

By Drea Dicarlo

*Note that this exhibition may not be suitable for young children*

Located at The Arts Asylum

Housed in a comfortable room just before the doors to the theatre, Fringe with Benefits features the work of five local artists. Using a variety of media that include pastels, oil paint, ceramics, and photography, Vania Soto, Katherine Krouse, Leslie Norman, Arthur Greene, Kent van Dusseldorp, and Sandy Woodson’s pieces make up the exhibition, all of which are interpretations of the nude. The light in the space is low and reflects off the glass in the framed pieces, making it a little difficult to best appreciate the work, and work is installed on temporary walls which is a little distracting. Although the works feature body after body, there are only a few depictions of faces. The anonymity of the bodies turns them from individuals and into sensual landscapes.

Soto, Krouse, and Norman each have a series of oil paintings depicting the female form. Soto’s two images contrast in context: one is a colorful nude within a still life, the other a black and white self-portrait with wings protruding from her back. Krouse’s large scale paintings function as studies of light, color, and form, the bodies abstracted. This experimentation in color is echoed in Norman’s small, but bright painting of a lounging nude. The painting complements Greene’s ceramic nudes, which are of a similar scale and of an academic nature.

Van Dusseldorp’s has multiple pieces that are split between life drawings and photography. The life drawings are quick poses that are more gestural than specific. His hand in the drawings shows varying degrees of control, the most extreme of which reduce the body to architectural forms. His photos are reminiscent of the work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and feature the eroticized male form. These highly staged photos place the viewer in the role of a lover rather than an outside observer. Woodson’s photos are like van Dusseldorp’s in their expression of queer masculinity. Unlike the latter’s photos though, which clearly represent the full body, Woodson’s images are fragmented and obscured: a bare torso, a nude body barely scrutable in the dark. There is something more organic and less staged about these images.

While the presentation leaves something to be desired, Fringe with Benefits is definitely worth a visit.

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