Art has a number of functions, both on a societal level and an individual level. It makes us think about space and color and form. It helps us relate to the world around us and view it through different lenses. It challenges our notions of beauty and culture. Sometimes, it's easy to interpret the contributions that an individual artist or exhibition make. Other times, it takes a little more thought to truly understand what an artist is trying to say with his or her work. William Steiger's work falls among the latter, at least for me. I feel like I'm fairly good at reading use of space, splashes of color and symbolism in art and configuring some sort of opinion about what the artist wants me to get out of it. But when confronted with Steiger's beautifully detailed paintings of trains and Ferris wheels and aerial landscapes, I have a hard time determining what it is I'm supposed to take away. The vivid oil paintings offer no context and come off almost like graphic design or architectural rendering, feeding little information to your imagination. But ultimately, I think that's the beauty of Steiger's work--it's virtually anonymous, it's stark and it really calls into question the relationship between the visual and the emotional. Decipher the themes during Steiger's Destination exhibit at the Holly Johnson Gallery, 1411 Dragon St., Saturday through November 15. Visit hollyjohnsongallery.com for gallery hours and more information.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Oct. 18. Continues through Nov. 15, 2008