Pulse of the Twin Cities
April 20, 2006

New Works at Rosalux by Amy Rice and Jonathan Nelson

by Natasha Walter

This month, Rosalux gallery is host to artists Amy Rice and Jonathan Nelson. Rice's images span the gamut from children to caterpillars, teapots to paper dolls. These spray-painted images are scrawled on such varied surfaces as wood, screen and panel. The courage to explore and make use of unusual surfaces is a feature Rice shares in common with fellow exhibitor Jonathan Nelson. His sculptural pieces are composed on remnants of theater marquees, suitcases and other striking materials.

In a winning combination, Rice pens sweet images in spray-paint. This satisfying fusion is most evident in "Meghan and Olivia," an image of a young girl and her paper doll. The girl looks up innocently as though concealing her mischief with her big brown eyes. She holds the paper doll with the intimacy of a friend who generously dresses her for every occasion. This touching image is accentuated with exquisite pink flowers reverently hovering in the background.

Pushing her imagination, Rice composes a scene made up of a folding screen, a Japanese-style table and sitting pillows. The pillows are spray painted with elegant flowers and the screen is enlivened with a romantic scene of bird and twig. This dream-like tea party shows the variety of which Rice is capable. Her images do not only live on two-dimensional surfaces, but also expand outward toward the objects that define our everyday life.

Sets of cavernous objects stuffed with relics of old-time movie culture film reels, white satin gloves and pocket watches comprise Jonathan Nelson's "theater series." Each object pours out of these dynamic structures-film spilling out of the background, a dusty pair of glasses resigned to its fate, and dim lightbulbs that have lost their former glamour. Viewing these entangled objects sends the imagination reeling.

In the "marquee series," Nelson contemplates his experiences with advertising. Neon lights flash on and off, reminiscent of the old Gold Medal Flour sign that hovers above the Minneapolis skyline. In this way, the pieces attempt to reflect the quick pace of life, symbolized by the passing of storefront signs and billboards-everyday experiences that interrupt the flow of a good book on a bus commute.

Both artists display a spirited sense of style. Rice's distinctive characters and savvy designs show through in each piece. There is a luscious innocence in her vision, one that seems to stem from the imaginative features of childhood. Such tenderness is evident, for example, when Rice expertly captures the image of a girl's indisputable love of her paper doll.

Similarly, Nelson's work is startling in its capacity to capture things from the past. This evocative power is most evident in his "theater series." The emotional appeal hinges on the loving placement of each object. From the smallest lighter to the largest film reel case, each object is imbued with history. Just imagine you were on a hunt for sunken treasure and suddenly came upon a chest of jewels. Nelson's work captures what you might feel: that combination of wonder and sadness for things that were once shiny and adored.

New Work by Amy Rice and Jonathan Nelson runs through April 29 at Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls. 612-747-3942. Gallery hours are Tue.-Thu. noon-8 p.m. & Fri.-Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Mondays.