Grimes & Horswill

PRESS RELEASE

-The Art Spirit Gallery is excited to offer new works of art by Robert Grimes and Michael Horswill. The opening reception and ArtWalk is on Friday, August 8 from 5 – 8pm. This event provides an opportunity to meet the artists, acquire their latest works and enjoy an evening of fine art, fine dining and good friends in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Everyone is welcome!

-The artists will give an informal talk/demonstration on Saturday, August 9th starting at noon.

- SUMMER HOURS: Open every day from 11am- 6pm

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For this show, The Art Spirit Gallery has paired the work of artists with striking similarities. Robert Grimes of Spokane and Michael Horswill of Hayden are both formally trained artists. They have both actively participated in the arts community since each one moved to this region in the mid 1990’s. At present, each artist’s creative inquiry is expressed through mixed media sculpture.

Horswill and Grimes make works of art that are arresting; the viewer’s habitual thought patterns are gently disrupted by unexpected information. The two artists’ complex constructions blend paintings and sculptures that present emotional and conceptual riddles. While Horswill’s work is more abstract and nonobjective with references to the natural world, Grimes’ work is more figurative and surrealistic, narrating and depicting landscapes of the imagination.

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Robert Grimes has been represented by The Art Spirit Gallery since it opened in 1997. He has been included in numerous group, dual and solo shows. Viewers in this region have come to know his work as an ever-evolving investigation of form and concept.  His mixed media sculptures present recognizable subject matter juxtaposed with abstract markings in surreal environments. The uncanny character of his work calls the spectator to investigate the space between contrasting elements.

Grimes’ practice is informed by a variety of influences. Participation in the University of Denver’s BFA program offered him the opportunity to focus on the creation of abstract and non-objective imagery. Later, while pursuing an MFA from Indiana University, professors guided him to explore the traditional methods of the old masters. The result of these seemingly dissimilar influences is a lifetime’s body of work that combines both historical and contemporary traditions.

This balance of academic disciplines is especially evident in his tendency to fracture the traditional rectangular frame of wall-hung pieces. In the August show at The Art Spirit Gallery, a large head, constructed from a mysterious combination of materials, spills out of the frame in a profusion of irregular forms. This balance of organic and geometric elements challenges a centuries-old notion of the frame as a window into another world. In Robert Grimes’ work, figures refuse to be bound within that structure. They occupy their own space, but at times, they seem to break away from the surface of the wall in an effort to make our acquaintance.

In the early 1980’s Grimes began making automatic drawings as a way to connect with the subconscious.  Those drawings are present in the engraved details of Grimes’ constructions, and their gestural quality often informs the movement of fragmented figures coming out of the wall. Such is the case in Grimes’ 2014 piece entitled Card Trick.  In this work, the instantly recognizable subject matter draws the viewer into a narrative marked by nothing so much as ambiguity. Is the Queen of Hearts crumbling, or are the broken fragments being mended? Conundrums like this one are forefront in Grimes’ attention, and are offered up for the viewer’s consideration at The Art Spirit Gallery in August.        

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Michael Horswill is a working artist and educator at North Idaho College. After completing a BA in art from the University of Washington and moving to the area in 1995, the artist has engaged with many aspects of the arts community. He began teaching in North Idaho College’s Art Department in 1998 and completed an MFA from the University of Idaho in 2002. Though the academic world does occupy much of his time, the artist maintains a rigorous studio and exhibition schedule. He has shown his work at The Art Spirit Gallery since 2001, where he has been featured in 4 solo and 13 dual and group shows. In 2010, Horswill participated in the Jundt Museum’s Drawn to the Wall event. In 2012 his large-scale metal and colored plexiglas triptych entitled Trilogy was installed on the traffic circle at the Hubbard entrance to North Idaho College, and recently, he and NIC students created a sculpture park at the nearby “Gathering Garden.”  He has volunteered actively for Art on the Green and Art on the Edge, has donated his work to local causes, and has been featured in many articles and two documentaries aired on PBS. 

At the center of Horswill’s practice is a celebration of form and materials. In his finished works, rawhide might find itself delicately stitched to parts from a dismantled typewriter. In another part of the sculpture, encaustic paintings rub shoulders with meticulously welded steel structures. Horswill gives his materials the opportunity to surprise the viewer with their vivid contrasts of character: some are soft organic substances, while others are emphatically industrial. Horswill’s joinery methods belie an attention to detail typically reserved for acts of devotion. Though their combination might seem jarring, the components of Horswill’s sculptures are fastened with the simple earnestness one might bring to the task of strapping a load securely to a truck. The scale and polish of those connections, however, are just this side of prayer.

This exhibit includes two new bodies of work by Horswill. A series of 6”x6” collages, made on glass with mixed media, are an exploration of intuitive creation and nimble response. For Horswill, some of these smaller pieces come to fruition without a rigid plan. This approach allows the piece of art to come into its own being without a preconceived idea of the outcome. The results of this process are visually seductive works that beckon to the viewer.

Horswill has also made a series of larger pieces that subtly refer to musical notation and instruments. While he does not often use representations of the visible world in his compositions, sometimes the presence of familiar images and objects can lure the viewer into an unfamiliar environment. For these larger pieces, complex drawings and planning underlie the structure. With shapes and visual rhythms that evoke the experience of music, Michael Horswill’s work speaks an abstract language that is as clear and powerful as the recollection of a favorite melody.

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There are an infinite number of ways to respond to the works of Robert Grimes and Michael Horswill. It is certain, however, that the experience of these works will challenge the viewer to see the world anew. As temperatures reach their peak in Coeur d’ Alene’s summer season, The Art Spirit Gallery becomes a deep well of visual and intellectual experience.