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Prairie Smoke

August 4, 1999

. . . Democracy and equal opportunity may be noble political principles, but they do not produce good art exhibitions. These thoughts are occasioned by three group shows of work by unrepresented artists. Such affairs are a summer tradition here.

The best show was "D.D.S.S.," abstract paintings by Jeff Dick, Katie Dowling, Vera Scekic and Norman Steck at Klein Art Works. Paul Klein, owner of the gallery, and Tiffani Sorber, the gallery's director, selected this beautifully balanced, extremely well-installed exhibition. Each artist is distinctive and accomplished, and the works all talk to each other.

Klein has dealt in abstract art for more than 20 years. He has a clear esthetic and a super eye -- and he knows the best artists. "I guess you would call the show an invitational," he says. "It results from a response to art and personalities...these are good people...I want to see good things happen to them."

Jeff Dick uses paint, pigment, tiny beads and metallic materials to create a luminous surface with an activated space behind it. Vera Scekic creates a deep, beautiful space with graphite, charcoal and pastel on textured and stained paper. The tiny lines and shapes in her drawings recall cloud chamber photographs of atomic particles. Her drawings look better when two or three hang together.

Katie Dowling uses encaustic to paint brightly colored stripes and patterns on linen. Her work explores "the ways in which infinite horizons can serve as either barriers or the meeting point between two opposing sides," she says. Norman Steck's simple organic shapes float against flat backgrounds. "In my own painting," he states, "both consciousness and the unconscious fashion imagery from my experiences, desires, beliefs and the places I've lived." . . .

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