GALESBURG — In the end, coming up with a name for their joint exhibition was harder than actually making the art for Galesburg’s Stacy Lotz and Dusty Scott, whose works will be on display Friday, May 20, through July 3 at the Galesburg Community Art Center , 349 E. Main St.
An opening reception for “Bridges” will be held at the center from 6-8 pm May 20.
“Tuesday coined the term,” said Lotz, of the art center’s executive director, Tuesday Çetin. “Dusty and I had spent months thinking about what to call it.”
“It was hard to put into words,” Scott said.
More:Gift shop, coffee shop, children’s art camp among Galesburg Community Art center plans
Hard, they said, because they purposely chose for their works not to focus on any central theme.
“When we decided to do a show together, we asked ourselves, ‘Do we want there to be a common theme or idea?’” Lotz said. “We didn’t like that restriction. We wanted the freedom to go through with crazy ideas for pieces that we wouldn’t normally make. So we decided, let’s just make work.”
“It’s kind of an alluring thing – you don’t know what lurks around the next corner,” said Scott, who likened the potential experience for viewers to being a kid in a toy store. “As artists, we often try to put ourselves in boxes. I’ve done a lot of portraits, so there’s a temptation to call me ‘the portrait guy.’ There’s all these parameters we tend to put on ourselves because we think we’re not good enough in another type of subject or medium.”
“Anything Goes” might’ve also worked as a title, but Scott said “Bridges” fits for other reasons, as the show is intended for viewers who might have their own self-doubts about being “good enough” in their ability to understand art.
“It’s about bridging the gaps – maybe for people who have never set foot in a gallery,” said Scott. “Sometimes, in that circumstance, they might feel intimidated – that they didn’t ‘get’ the art. But you don’t have to get any of this. We’re just trying to connect with the viewer in a lot of different ways and bridge that gap.”
Both of the artists have some big, bright, bold pieces in the show, but there are other aspects, as well, including an admittedly “darker” piece by Scott. It explores a theme he can trace back to his days as a student at Monmouth College, when he studied issues related to the rise of technology, which has only risen even further and faster since his 2003 graduation.
“Normally, when you look at a child, their posture is amazing, it’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s the way we’re supposed to stand – belly out, shoulders strong. It’s the way we’d naturally stand as adults if we weren’t trying to hold in our gut all the time.”
However, Scott noticed that when his daughter, Lucy, was using a tablet, her posture changed.
“She was static, slumped,” he said, calling the image “bothersome” and “disturbing.”
He took some quick photos without his daughter even noticing, then created a powerful work tying together themes of confinement and rules that speak to his view on what can happen when technology is granted too much authority.
Scott also discussed another piece, “News Candy,” that is based on typical news programming and the way it can actually “program” the minds of the viewers.
“But if you can see that and recognize what’s happening, that’s your potential,” said Scott.
When Scott was a student at Monmouth, one of his professors was Lotz, who joined the faculty in 1995 and is now the longest-tenured member of the college’s art department.
“Dusty’s not my student any more, he’s my colleague,” Lotz said. “That, for me, is the best part of this – that the two of us get to do this. It’s about the relationships you build with people, and the relationships we hope to build with the community. … Since the time he was a student, Dusty and I have talked about art and what it means to be an artist in a rural community — to make art that speaks to your community. Kind of the ‘headiness’ of art.”
Also on display will be the Galesburg Community Art Center itself, which is still in transition from its move from two blocks west on Main Street, where it was located for 60 years. Its new space is the former home of the Odd Fellows, built around 1895, and, later, the Galesburg Antiques Mall.
“We had a hard hat exhibit for members and friends shortly after the move, but this is the first show with featured artists in the gallery,” said Çetin.
A signature aspect of the former location was its spiral staircase.
“That was a cool feature,” she said. “People would come in, and that’s where their eyes were drawn.”
She then wondered, “What will they stare at here?”
“The size,” Scott replied.
At 27,000 square feet, the new space is five times larger than the former site.
Lotz and Scott’s works are displayed in three main areas: some on the ground floor and many more on the second floor – some in a temporary exhibit space and others – including a colorful installation of finches by Lotz – in what will be a permanent gallery space .