L. Kent Wolgamott: Spiritual, emotional powers resonate long after leaving exhibition

L. Kent Wolgamott: Spiritual, emotional powers resonate long after leaving exhibition
Diane Marsh “Moving Toward Light” oil on wood  36" x 84" 1988

"Spiritual, Emotional Powers Resonate Long After Leaving Exhibition"
by L. Kent Wolgamott 
Lincoln Journal Star July 02, 2005 

KEARNEY — Giant rosaries rest on the floor, and a cross covered with nails hangs from the ceiling. Paintings of emotionally exposed people paired with quiet environments or "blank" spaces hang on the walls. A set of praying hands, one gold, the other red and looking like fire, sits on a pedestal.
That is the view that immediately confronts visitors to "Diane Marsh & Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form and the Natural Condition," a striking Museum of Nebraska Art exhibition that features the work of painter Marsh and her husband, ceramicist Dominguez.
The work in the show was not done at the same time.  Marsh's paintings date as far back as 1988, and more than half were completed in the 1990s, while all of Dominguez's ceramics were done in the last two years. But they nonetheless inform and powerfully reinforce each other.
Dominguez's rosaries, made on 20-foot strands of rope, have obvious religious roots. The rosary itself is a religious object used in daily devotion, and Dominguez adds additional Catholic iconography to the pieces with nails covering the beads on "Nail Rosary," a reference to the crucifixion that is repeated in the hanging "Nail Crucifix," and bright red ceramic beads representing drops of blood in "Sangre de Christo."
Those pieces give the exhibition a distinct spiritual underpinning. But that sensibility takes on additional resonance when seen with Marsh's realist imagery of the faces of men and women who seem to be exposing the rawest of emotions.
Created by subjects "acting," the portraits are nonetheless gripping, emotionally honest images, whether it is one of four Marsh self-portraits, such as "Moving Toward Light," which shows the artist lying on her back in water, her eyes clinched shut, or the repeating images of her other subjects, including the man in "Deep Into His Distance," a painting that is part of the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery collection.
As if to put a point on the fact that her paintings have a spiritual underpinning, Marsh scratches a quote from Krishnamurti, the 20th century Indian spiritual teacher, into the right half of "The Ending of Sorrow," a powerful painting that underlies the exhibition's unifying  notion — hope — identified by curator Teleza Rodriguez in her gallery notes .
But there is another theme that ties the work together. It is of personal expression and love for family.
Marsh's expression can be seen, to some measure, in the paintings in which she is the subject, including the sadly beautiful "The Ending of Sorrow." Dominguez's expression takes a little background information to fully appreciate.
The giant rosaries are laden with religious symbolism. But they are also personal icons for Dominguez. Two of them hang on the wall and run down onto the floor, replicating in large scale the rosary that Dominguez's grandmother kept on a hook. When she would take it down to say her prayers, he recalls, all the kids got quiet out of respect, maybe, out of a desire to avoid getting in trouble, you bet.
That connection illustrates the family theme that pervades the work.  Family is most easily seen in the room with a pair of pieces titled "Anton's Flowers," one a gorgeous 2002 reflection-filled still life by Marsh, the other one of Dominguez's signature "dish" sets that turn cups, saucers and plates into a beautiful blue-and-green-dominated ceramic garden. Also in the room is "Anton's Rock," one of a handful of Dominguez maquettes in the show.
Anton is Marsh and Dominguez's son. He can be seen in his mother's arms in the appropriately titled "Sanctuary," the painting that is hung in the center of the gallery and is the first object a viewer sees when entering the exhibition. On the floor in front of Marsh's powerful portrayal of mother and child against a barren river landscape with birds flying above is "Diane's Gems," a pile of Dominguez's ceramic "gemstones" he named for his wife.
The other themes of the exhibition are equally as compelling as the spirituality and emotional connection that is evident between the couple's work.
Marsh's "landscapes" extend from the spiral nebula depicted opposite a crying woman in "Rage, Rage Against the Dying of Light" to a Platte River-like view with a crane flying above in "Passages" to the New Mexico desert depiction in "To Heal an Unfinished Life."
Marsh's paintings pairing landscape with portraits are echoed in a set of Dominguez torsos. Two torsos, one male and one female, are done in terra cotta with leaves and other designs carved into the "body." The other two are more elaborate — "Red Torso" and "Blue Torso," in which the glazings give the landscape on body rich color and a distinctive sense of motion. "Red Torso" brings to mind a fiery New Mexico sunset while its blue companion shows the rolling landscape in bright daylight.
This exhibition is the first time that Marsh and Dominguez have shown their work together. Through its insightful hanging and often telling juxtapositions of paintings and ceramics, I'm sure they've learned something of their connection from looking at it.
I'm certain that anyone who walks into the galleries can't miss the connection between the themes in their work. Nor will it soon be forgotten. The spiritual and emotional power of the exhibition is unmistakable and makes its works resonate long after leaving the museum. That is the mark of an important, meaningful show — something that is relatively rare in any museum or gallery.
In other words, don't miss "Diane Marsh & Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form and the Natural Condition." You've got until Aug. 28 to get to Kearney to see it.
Reach L. Kent Wolgamott at 473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com.
If you go
What: "Diane Marsh & Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form and the Natural Condition"
Where: The Museum of Nebraska Art, 2401 Central Ave., Kearney.
When: Through Aug. 28

Top 10 Art World Encounters in 2005

"Top 10 Art World Encounters in 2005" by L. Kent Wolgamott
Lincoln Journal Star, December 31, 2005 
At the end of each year, I take a look back and put together a Top 10 list from my encounters in the art world in the preceding 12 months. By definition, such lists are personal and subjective. But they invariably show the variety and depth of the contemporary world, whether they’re compiled in Lincoln, Neb., or by the contributors to ARTForum from around the world.  That said, here’s my Top 10 list for 2005:

1. “Singular Expressions.” With its presentation of nine midcareer artists with solid national and international reputations, this invitational exhibition that closes Feb. 12 at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery is the most important contemporary art show in Nebraska of 2005 and, arguably, the most important such show ever at Sheldon. 

2. "Diane Marsh & Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form and the Natural Condition.” This summer show at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney marked the first time that husband and wife/ceramicist and painter Eddie Dominguez and Diane Marsh had shown their work together. Through its insightful hanging and often-telling juxtapositions of her paintings that frequently contrast anguished portraits with landscapes and his ceramics, particularly a series of giant rosaries, the exhibition had great spiritual and emotional power and with the inclusion of works about their son, Anton, resonated with ideas of family as well.

3. “Dan Flavin: A Retrospective.” The best big museum show I saw this year was this retina-frying gathering of 50 works by the minimalist sculptor Dan Flavin,  It was at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth when I saw it.

4. “Patrick Rowan.” This career retrospective 

5. “Petah Coyne: Above and Beneath the Skin.” 

6. Tugboat Gallery opens. For me, the biggest news on the Lincoln gallery scene this year was the May opening of the Tugboat Gallery. 
7. “Bring Your Bar Codes.” 
8. The Guerrilla Girls.

9. “Dirk Skreber: 

10. “April Gornik: Paintings and Drawings.” 

Together in Art, Marriage

"Together in Art, Marriage" by Jan Thompson
Kearney Hub, Thursday, July 14, 2005 

KEARNEY - Painter Diane Marsh and sculptor Eddie Dominguez have been displaying their work together for many years - but only in their living room.
Their joint exhibit at Kearney's Museum of Nebraska Art, up through Aug. 28, is a first for the married couple. The two artists had ideas about the exhibit as different as their work, but both like the dual vision that comes through in "Diane Marsh and Eddie Dominguez: Parallel Perceptions of Land, Form, and the Natural Condition."
"I wasn't even convinced" about the idea of a joint exhibit when she agreed to it, said Marsh. She said she hesitated at curator Teliza Rodriguez's plan because her work is much different from Dominguez's. There are different color palettes, different media, different styles to the work.
It wasn't until the opening reception, when she saw the exhibit in MONA's east galleries, that she realized it worked.
"I thought the show was powerful, and just beautiful," she said.
Dominguez said he liked the idea of a joint exhibit from the beginning. Sure, he and Marsh have different approaches to art, he said, but hey - it works at home.
"I also know that in our house there's one of her paintings and one of my pieces, and there's no conflict," he said.
Dominguez, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, creates large ceramic sculptures in brilliant colors. The exhibit includes some of his earlier work, such as a dinnerware set in the shape of a flower garden, but most of the pieces are very new. Dominguez said his rosaries, torsos, crucifixes and other work came through a spiritual search, prompted partly by the death of his mother.
"They all sort of happened at the same time," said Dominguez, adding that he becomes aware of the meanings within his pieces as they happen. For example, he'd long been interested in figurative art before trying the torso sculptures, which he later realized echo the shape of the crucifix.
Marsh, who lives and works at the couple's full-time home in New Mexico, paints very large figures that show intense emotion. They are often juxtaposed with objects that give insight into the emotion. Marsh said the size of her work, and its realistic style, come because she wants to show basic truths about what it's like to be human.
"I'm trying to tell the truth as I know it," she said. "I feel like if I'm telling the truth about what it feels like to be human . . .it will be true for other people as well."
Marsh said her work can disturb viewers, because it asks them to look at emotions they may not want to deal with. Dominguez said that intensity in Marsh's work gives it something in common with his own, though he describes her paintings as "soft bold" compared to his "hard bold."
Her colors are soft, her surfaces smooth and her images are ethereal, Dominguez said, while his colors are bright, surfaces harsh and images solid. But they express a similar vision, boldly.
"And that's kind of like our life," Marsh said.