I read this blurb in the Sherwin Williams newsletter, Stir and found it to be very interesting. Hope you do, too:
Written by: Kim Palmer
"Every cultural moment has its markers — its song, its movie, its catchphrase, all of which seem to sum up and capture the times in which we live. Can a moment also be characterized by a color?
The artists of Studiopolis believe it can. And which color is now? Red, they concluded. The Minneapolis collective chose red as the theme for its most recent show, which was held in February.
Red symbolizes the struggling economy and the artists’ resolve to meet its challenges head-on, with energy and passion, according to photographer Tim Gihring. “There’s something about being in the red that we can all relate to, as artists,” he says. “We also wanted to reflect that optimism that we still have.”
The hot-blooded hue always makes an entrance, and the group wanted its show to have red’s forceful impact, Gihring says. “Red is the color of danger, of sex, of anything goes.”
And in the dead of winter, with snow piled high outside, the feeling of entering a red-themed gallery seemed especially appealing, he adds. “Red is warm and embracing.”
“The Red Show” was Studiopolis’ fourth color-themed show. Artist Michael Schmidt brought the idea back to his studio mates after seeing a blue-themed show in Chicago several years ago. “I was impressed with the look of the gallery, that strong color,” he says.
His colleagues were enthusiastic. “It seemed like a really fresh idea,” says ceramics sculptor Susan Feigenbaum. Studiopolis first mounted an orange show, then green, then blue, before turning up the heat with red.
Literal to symbolic
Artists interpret the color theme in very different ways. For Schmidt, a painter who works in oils and does a lot of urban landscapes, seeing red is about literally working within that palette. “Red looks one way on its own and completely different with another color,” he says. “For me, it’s how the colors relate to each other.”
For Feigenbaum, red accents add energy and emotion to her abstract sculptures. “My work is very colorful to begin with, and I’m developing a signature palette. I keep returning to chartreuse — to me, it seems neutral,” she says. Her pieces often have openings where the viewer can see inside. “I like to accent the openings with red, like the energy within a person or being.”
Gihring, a black-and-white photographer, faces a completely different artistic challenge. “Because of my medium, color becomes more of a metaphor,” he says. For the Red Show, “I used a photo from China, a picture of a little girl wearing a Young Communist scarf.” He blew the photo up to poster size, so that its looming presence symbolized China’s immensity and Western fears about its growing influence.
Gihring is drawn to black-and-white photography because he likes the way it “strips away noise and focuses on things that really matter,” but he’s found that he enjoys the challenge of working within a color theme. “I like the box color puts me into. It gives me a frame to play around in,” he says.
Other artists seem to agree. Although themed shows are becoming more common as a way to draw people into galleries, many themes are complicated and off-putting, Schmidt says. “I see calls for entries to some shows, and they have such heavy concepts that I don’t even understand them. Color is such a simple concept — you can take it in any direction.”
The color-themed shows have attracted many artists outside the collective. “It’s exciting to see — to toss something as simple as color out there and see how the community responds to that,” Gihring says. “It really pulls people out of the woodwork. Everyone can relate to a color.” "