Tapestries by Klaus Anselm and Joan Griffin at McGuffey Art Center

Room With a View by Klaus Anselm - with permission of the artist. Room With a View by Klaus Anselm – with permission of the artist.

The abstract and stylized tapestries of Klaus Anselm and Joan Griffin, currently on display at the McGuffey Art Center, are indisputably beautiful objects. They have clear pleasing palettes, unexpected bright intense colors, soft surfaces, and an odd but familiar resolution. Anselm’s tapestries are mostly geometric abstractions, overlapping squares, curves, and quadrilaterals that fill each composition. Griffin’s tapestries provide a great contrast to Anselm’s. Her organic shapes create recognizable but stylized landscapes which are bright and flowing, however, as a group, the images of each artist vary widely in interest.

The constraints of the tapestry format add particular interest to the exhibition. The low resolution designs recall vintage Nintendo animation and early computer adventure games. The bright oranges and blues in Anselm’s canyon landscapes mimic the brightness of a glowing screen, and many of his designs bring to mind 1980’s imaginative visions of a graphic cyberpunk future. This pixelized retro-futuristic feel is fun and appealing, especially when considering the analog mode of their construction.

Anselm’s canyon images are beautiful and unexpectedly bright with alien towering walls and burning sunlight. Anselm’s geometric tapestries construct interesting imagined abstract spaces with extruding rectangles and walls of cobbled 2D and 3D shapes. A few of Anselm’s works, however, hover on the edge of being overly-decorative. “Concert for Space,” creates a small distortion of space with the twist of each red ribbon, but beyond this, the work provides very little spatial-geometric intrigue to hold the viewer. In this particular work, the scale of the tapestry fights with its composition. The ribbons are cut short in order to fit the square, which limits their ability to enliven the space.

Griffin’s tapestries use a great sense of light to construct delicate scenes that are painterly and almost fantastical. “Village Path” show a shadowed overgrown path leading to a stone arch through which we see a brilliant sunset. The image is intriguing and well composed with a bit of sentimentality.  By contrast, “Breeze” is very tightly cropped and autumnal to the point of being tacky, which leaves the viewer with little reason to examine the work further.

Overall, the show is full of well designed tapestries that are interesting objects by themselves. Each image is accomplished with varying degrees of success, and the pixel-like nature of the work manages to create some intriguing and unexpected associations.

~Aaron Miller and Rose Guterbock