May 7 2014 12:00 AM

Lansing-area art galleries offer candy for eye and brain in May


It’s not uncommon for an untrained eye to question the skill involved in an abstract work of art. Overlooking any subtext or form, some people may snicker to themselves that a child could produce such a piece. But “Reductive Uncertainty” at (SCENE) Metrospace, one of many opening exhibits at Lansing’s First Sunday Gallery Walk last weekend, features highly conceptual prints and sculptures by a cyclotron physicist — hardly child’s play.

“The pixel level is like the atomic level,” said Matthaeus Leitner, artist and physicist at Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. “Its more about experiencing a presence. Location can’t be defined anymore — it’s all about probability.”

“Reductive Uncertainty” is the first exhibition for the Austrian-born Leitner, who condenses photographed images into what he calls “unrecognizable” artwork. Through Leitner’s lens, a simple sunset becomes a wash of warm pixelated color.

The theme of presence is carried over into his sculpture as well. Simple shapes are welded out of aluminum, where faces meet at a hardened array of boiling edges. Leitner prefers aluminum to deliberately create this effect.

“Its imperfect,” he said. “Whimsical.”

The pairing of academia and art aren’t necessarily exclusive to the campus of MSU. Old Town’s MICA Gallery welcomed “KIEL-WAHL” over the weekend, the culmination of a two-year collaboration between artists Dylan Wahl and Jefferson Kielwagen.

“There’s eye candy and brain candy,” said the Brazilian-born Kielwagen of his conceptual exhibition. “Brain candy is better. The viewer holds the idea for longer.”

Kielwagen and Wahl both have ties to MSU; Kielwagen was in the graphic design program and Wahl is in engineering. Kielwagen said he found graphic design “frustrating,” and wants to pursue the success he´s found outside of it. Wahl, however, intends to keep engineering as his vocation and moonlight with his creativity.

The pieces in “KIEWWAHL” deal with perception and identity. Visitors are encouraged to partake in “Gay Cheese,” a column in the center of the gallery upon which a platter of cheese cubes is meant to conjure questions of the self before and after it is consumed.

The north wall of MICA is adorned with various patterns defaced at their centers with bold, black circles, while the south wall is home to “The Absence of the Artist is Present,” a series of photographs from all over the world illustrating that the artist can only be present in one place at a time, but his absence can be anywhere simultaneously.

“KIELWAHL” also includes various sculptures and video installations, including “Unboxing,” a pairing of YouTube mockery and intellectual ideals that Wahl said is “like an orgasm.”

A couple of doors down at the Creole Gallery, artists were celebrating their academic careers’ end at the Lansing Community College Class of 2014 Photography Exhibition. Works included portraits, landscapes and food.

Included in the show was fine art photographer Libby Parker. Hailing from Jackson, Parker’s black-and-white work featured strong focal points accented by skylines with diminished but resilient sunlight. Also included in the show was studio and fashion photographer Alyssa LaFrance. LaFrance’s works included tight shots of elegant subjects staring back at the viewer in a gaze that walks the line of plaintive and sensual.

“It’s my dream to work for Vogue Magazine,” LaFrance said. “I used to tear pages out of Vogue as a kid and hang them on my wall.”

Of all the facets of art, photography may seem the easiest, but LaFrance makes a strong argument otherwise.

“It takes a lot more work than what ends up on that wall,” she said. “You take 200 pictures and there are only two that actually work.”