March 8 - 26, 2021. Julia J Wolfe: It's About the Internet.
All art is serious. Seriously. Even when the works are brightly colored, made up of invented shapes and are a mishmash of playful objects (recognizable or not), the situation requires active consideration.
But of course, art is serious. Why wouldn’t it be? Artists intently sit, stand and walk around as they make their paintings. Choices are determined. Maybe it’s their training, their vision or simply indigestion, but marks start to appear next to other marks. Of all the things they could be doing, artists choose to sequester themselves (studio, apartment, garret) and reflect with wet or dry media. This is work, but are these marks reasonable?
Rarely do we see process in the creation of art. In fact, most people would prefer either not to witness or to examine the process. For most visitors to a gallery, it’s the end product - that single painting hung on the wall – that’s most important. Given all of life’s confusion, there it is, the painting. Let’s look at it and talk about it. The end product.
But in these paintings and wall decorations by Julia J Wolfe neither art nor life is simple or direct. I think of these considerations as I look at Julia J Wolfe’s recent work at the University of Dubuque’s Bisignano Art Gallery in the Heritage Center. When you walk into the Gallery, you see that it’s been transformed into a lively place, a world of “curated objects, wall drawings, and characters that appear to be up to something” (according to the artist). Wolfe’s words seem very appropriate. These shapes seem to have freshly sprung from the artist’s mind to the gallery walls, inside and outside the frames.
These colors, lines, and shapes seem to flow in a logic we can try to follow. Perhaps when we weren’t looking, they escaped from a Kandinsky or Miro painting and now seem to describe something close to a children’s book where the plot and the characters are merely art marks. And I’m not sure I understand where they’re going, but their optimism and playful innocence speaks to a time of family and joy. The psychology of these shapes has the tightness of a Henry James novel. After years apart, these lines and shapes, the foreground and the background, the hues and saturations are reunited. They have challenges but are attracted to each other after all. Individually, the paintings profess a whimsical aesthetic. Together, they are a parade of smiling proportions.
Julia J. Wolfe is a multidisciplinary artist based in Iowa City, IA. She holds a M.A./M.F.A. from the University of Iowa and a B.A. from Rhodes College, and she received a certificate from Brandeis University.
Her work has been exhibited nationally in numerous solo and group shows, including the “Every Woman Biennial 2019” in New York City, "I'm Happy to Sit Here Beside You" at Western Illinois University, "Pitch In!" at Public Space One in Iowa City, and "Repurpose" at Core New Art Space in Denver, CO. She has completed residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Public Space One in Iowa City, New Pacific Studios in Vallejo, CA, and Burren College of Art in County Clare, Ireland. Her work has been published in Studio Visit Magazine Vol. 42 and New American Paintings MFA Annual Issue #141.
Wolfe creates brightly colored paintings, sculptures, and installations based on observations of the public and private human experience. Drawing primarily from the American landscape, she layers imagery of mass-production with a childlike and whimsical aesthetic, playfully combining comedy and satire with a mishmash of weightier subjects.
In essence, her work is like pages from a diary, documenting the events, quotes, and emotions of a period of time, providing space for laughter, optimism, and inward-looking thought and/or critique. It is playgroundesque and humorously innocent, yet simultaneously comments on our culture of consumption.
Recent work and more information about the artist can be found at: www.juliajwolfe.com