C’ville Art Blog: Clay Witt at the Garage

Detail of "Ursa I" by Clay Witt. With the authors reflection in the gold leaf background. Detail of “Ursa I” by Clay Witt. With the authors reflection in the gold leaf background.

The Garage is primarily recognized as a fun offbeat downtown music venue. However, if you squint and peer behind the lead guitarist, or stumble past on your way to your car on First Fridays, you discover the space also curates monthly art shows. While its shows are fairly difficult to access (the space is closed for the majority of each month), I have found the work on display to be consistently fun and intriguing.

The most recent show at the Garage is a new group of paintings/drawings by Clay Witt. These works have a different feel than his recent show at Second Street Gallery. They depict atmospheric white spaces inhabited by bears, mammoths, and tumultuous erupting steam jets. While they still have the artist’s immaculate attention to surface and texture, they seem more quickly and less preciously resolved. In some paintings, the strong mark-making creates an immediate and emotive legibility, reminiscent of  inked children’s book illustrations. Ursa I and II as well as Danae I and II display this with an etching-like quality.

In some of the larger paintings the graphite marks feel slower and more timid. To compare two polar bears, the slow thin lines in The Meeting are not quite as captivating or emotive as the thick textured hair-marks in Ursa I.

This being said, Witt’s work is gorgeous, and it is brilliant to see new approaches enter his process.

~ Aaron Miller and Rose Guterbock