On the first Friday of every month at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, artists attend a reception to showcase their exhibits on display for the rest of the month.
The process of selecting artists is not a quick one.
Julie Roberts, the gallery director for the arts center, said she and three other jurors select artists based on technique, originality and consistency.
“We get a large number of amateur and professional artists, sometimes students,” Roberts said.
Artists have the opportunity to submit their art twice a year — once in spring and once in fall — to an online portal. Then, the judges grade each artist’s submission on a scale of 1 to 100.
On Friday evening, four local artists displayed a diverse work of art — photography, printmaking, painting and microscopic snapshots of plants and animals — that will hang in the center’s galleries for the month of July.
Louisville, Ky., native Dale Gardner will take thousands of pictures and only pick one that he likes. An U.S. Navy engineer who currently lives in Bloomington, Gardner said he’s been practicing photography for about 15 years.
Gardner’s exhibit consists of photographs that contrast different time periods. The photograph “Control,” which features a barcode below an old, black and white picture of a woman, was what kick-started Gardner’s idea for the exhibit.
Gardner said he’s “never been very good” at photography.
“In fact, a lot of those pictures in there have all the bad photographic techniques buried in them,” he said. “That’s why they’re funny colors, and it works out. So, it’s good to not be good at photography sometimes.”
British artist Claire Swallow said there are differences in being an artist in England and being an artist in the United States.
“In England, you tend to do exhibits not for sale but more for the museum,” Swallow said. “Here, it’s more you sell your work. It’s a different way, but it’s still hard to get your work seen in both arenas.”
Swallow came to the U.S. seven years ago with her husband, Jonathan Simons, who is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at IU.
Swallow began creating art early in her life and received professional training while taking night classes at a community college.
Her first exhibit was in 2004 in Nottingham, United Kingdom.
In “Falling/Rising,” pieces of nails, acrylic, wire and other materials are painted over with various colors, creating a two-dimensional, abstract feel.
“I have boxes full of junk,” Swallow said. “I like shiny, sparkly things. I like to collect them. I like getting my hands dirty.”
"THAT TAKES THE CAKE"
Sarah E Wain’s painting might make onlookers hungry at first glance.
Her paintings, inspired by food blogs, feature chocolate cupcakes spread with thick white frosting, a three-layered chocolate cake topped by sliced strawberries and other decadent desserts.
“I like my paintings to be large scale. Realistic, but large scale,” said Wain, who earned her degree in art education at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.
Her paintings have also been exhibited at Bloomington Bagel Company and Darn Good Soup.
Two years ago, Wain came to Bloomington with her husband and has been painting for three years. Wain said she wants to explore different subject matters in her art, such as portraiture.
“LIFE UNDER THE LENS — THE ART OF MICROSCOPY”
More than 10 years ago, Alex Straiker — an associate scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU — discovered the beauty of the images he was studying under a microscope.
Straiker’s research currently centers around the characterization of cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds in the brain.
But the exhibit on the third floor at the arts center largely features microscopic images of plants and animals.
Jessica Lucas, a postdoctoral researcher and educator in the IU biology department, took images of Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant related to broccoli and canola. Straiker and Chris Sekirnjak, who started the idea for the exhibit and is a scientific consultant in Denver, Colo., captured images of mostly mouse tissue.
“There are things we can’t see, things that are invisible to us without the right tools,” Straiker said. “And as part of our research, there are just a lot of new and interesting tools that have come into our hands, especially within the last several years, that have allowed us to see things. And I just regularly find myself looking at what I’m seeing under the microscope and thinking, ‘My god, this is beautiful.’”
Currently, Straiker is working with two other artists to produce a gallery at the IU Art Museum that displays the intersection of art and science for fall 2013.