The Marietta Cobb Museum of Art’s juried show Metro Montage XXI features more than 100 artists using a variety of media and methods. It’s on view through September 5.
The opening gallery houses the jury’s first-place winner, Kirsten Stingle’s Stories Are Forgotten Dreams (2021). Stingle, an Atlanta artist, draws from her theater background to create elaborate figurative sculptures that suggest larger narratives. Her contribution to Metro Montage XXI is a hand-built porcelain and mixed–media life-size sculpture of a woman in 18th-century European costume. Her dress opens to reveal a vintage TV, housing a second, illuminated tableau in soft rococo pastels. Inside, a second woman whose dramatic gesture echoes that of the larger figure of which she is part.
Second place goes to Fathima Mumin’s MILES (2019), a large ink drawing that depicts a saddle in painstaking detail against a stark white background. Mumin, who lives in Alpharetta, grew up in Africa. Her work pays homage to her childhood love of western movies and Americana.
Third place goes to Debra K. Yuan’s Summer Immersion (2020), also employs near-photographic accuracy. The colored–pencil drawing shows a girl holding her breath underwater. Yuan, of Buford, likes to merge the abstraction of seeing something through water with a highly naturalistic style. Myriad ripples refract color and distort details, like the young woman’s nails, which are bright chartreuse.
Two artists earned honorable mention:
Joel Sobelson of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for his nostalgic pastel Old Friends (2020), a close-up black-and-white drawing of a pair of Chucks. In his artist statement, he asks, “Who doesn’t remember getting their very first pair of ‘big boy’ sneakers?”
Melvin Toledo’s Claudia and Elvi (2020) of Tucker, a luminous oil painting on an aluminum panel. The double portrait shows the pair holding construction tools — a hammer, tape measure and chalk gun. The phrase “hacemos de todo” (or “we do everything”) is inscribed on the lower frame. Toledo, who lives in Tucker, was born in Nicaragua and educated in Honduras. The piece reflects his admiration for Claudia and Elvi, who he met when they repaired his screened porch. He calls it a celebration of their life that “embodies the immigrant experience.”
While many of the artists here work in contemporary realism (all but one winner qualifies), others explore abstraction. Smyrna-based Rebecca B. Brown found inspiration in the movement of water for Undercurrent (2021), which uses modeling paste and heavy acrylic to create a richly textured non–objective painting.
Neurodermatitis #5 by Atlanta’s Hannah Brooks combines woodcut and monoprint collage. The work takes its name from the skin condition, because it’s unbounded form stretches diagonally across the wall. The details suggest the precise geometry of blueprints and architectural renderings, but the overall shape suggests organic growth. Jie Li’s Fire and Desire (2021) is nebulous watercolor inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer’s theories on Zen Buddhism and Daoism.
One of the more contemporary takes on abstraction, perhaps, is Raoul Pacheco’s gilded receipt, 9.15, from the Spectacular Shine series. In a simple gesture, the Augusta artist transforms a piece of ephemera into a relic-like object.
Other artists expand beyond mainstream fine-arts materials that harken back to older traditions. Working in hand embroidery and hand-stitched fiber art, Atlanta’s Maxine Hess’ Typically a Saturday (2021) recounts with simple fabric shapes the memory of carving puppets from apple slices with her grandfather. Marietta artist Dale R. Molnar calls on early–Christian mosaics. The Calling of St. Matthew (2018) combines glass and mother-of-pearl tesserae in a small mosaic showing the saint at the moment of his transformation.
Social justice emerges as a theme in the work of former criminal defense lawyer Glynn B. Cartledge of Reno, Nevada. His P2P: No. 136982, 2018, is part of a Prisoners to Paper Dolls series that challenges assumptions about formerly incarcerated people. There’s something almost iconic about his figure: Painted against a flat, neutral background he stares ahead with a serene expression. Below, an attendant work, P2P: No. 136982 Clothing, 2018, features small, doll-like clothing that suggests the malleability of social perception.
Overt nods to art history appear in the works of Siyuan Tan and Robert Detamore. Detamore’s Tree of Knowledge (2021) is a detailed graphite drawing that seems inspired by Rubens, Bouguereau and an unknown engraver. Angels wear glasses and clowns play the devil in the Barnesville-based artist’s inventive reimagining of the Garden of Eden story.
Tan, now living in Brooklyn, is from northeastern China and has an M.F.A. from SCAD. He seems to criticize art institutions with The Venus of Willendorf Was Destroyed in the Museum and The Sculpture of David Was Destroyed in the Square. Both show replicas of famous works of art in states of disrepair. The former places a replica of the famous Paleolithic figurine that shows Venus broken and elevated on a tiered pedestal; the latter shows the severed feet of Michelangelo’s David on a graffitied pedestal.
Metro Montage XXI offers many more impressive selections, mostly from metro artists in the museum’s historic galleries. Cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award by August 27.