If you happen to be crossing the streets of Pilsen you may find yourself face-to-face with a building that resembles a miniature castle more than a residence. This château is home to Roxaboxen, an artist-run gallery located on North 21st Street and Leavitt. Roxaboxen’s current exhibition, “Grow In The Dark,” showcases the work of artists Jeremy Mitchell Pelt, Lisa Nance, and Andrew Fansler. The group show seamlessly melds the artists’ perspectives on physics, geology, horticulture, and astronomy to create a landscape that vibrates at a melodic frequency.
One of the few sculptural pieces in the exhibition is “Artificial Tree Receiving Artificial Tan” by Jeremy Mitchell Pelt. Confined to a Plexiglas box, the fake tree is nearly suffocated by a mechanized canister of spray tan. Although the sculpture is humorous and eye-catching, Pelt exhibits a serious understanding of weight and texture in his painted work. Succulent strokes of pigment cluster together and are isolated from a scraped space to reveal large geological masses, as observed in his painting “Edge” and his painting “Floor.” In “Floor” five mineral-esque formations are composed of vibrant tones of red, while the rest of the setting is blanketed with a white impasto. Pelt’s enigmatic forms and undefined spaces take shape again in a series of “DiamondEye” paintings, such as “Exchange At Port,” where metaphysical visions become tangible.
The assemblage landscapes of Lisa Nance jigsaw between actual and imagined space. In her piece “Mouth Monster,” a vivid paper cutout of graphic efflorescence collides with an appropriated landscape and sculpted architectural composition. Nance’s work teeters on the brink of deconstruction, where her recurrent absences in form and space are ephemeral and mysterious. In her painting “Blood Landscape,” Nance continues the motif in an anthropomorphic fashion where malleable lapses in form appear as bodily orifices.
The unifying element of “Grow In The Dark” is the work by Andrew Fansler. His diagrammatic formulations jolt into celestial bodies in “Pop Rocks,” where a cosmic alchemy begins to take shape. Most notably is “Cloud Gate II,” a mixed media work that is directly inlaid within a portion of wall resembling an Islamic doorway. In this piece, Fansler seemingly combines a constructed, materiality with an undefined space by using interlocking stings, lines of colored tape, patterned fabric, and geometric shapes.
“Grow In The Dark” presents a yin and yang of the natural, astronomical and human forces of the universe. Each artist stands out in their own respect, yet it is their shared interests and artistic sensibility that allows their work to converse within the space.