Monday, October 31, 2011

Janet Ballweg's Cups Runneth Over at the MAPC Show

Janet Ballweg is a consummate artist and masters her craft beautifully in the two prints that radiate a quiet warm and comfort. Her subject matter relies upon a familiar haunt - the kitchen. These prints create an aura of home and happiness, and imminent conversations with family, friends. "Round Again" shows the kettle sitting on a table with three cups, expectantly waiting to be served to as yet unseen guests. The repetition of shadows, reflection of the objects in the mirror and the circular patterns in the mirror's border  found again and again enhance the notion of one's cycles of thought, care for anticipated guests.

But some other visual aspects come into the picture as a secondary 'round' of information. The gathering of cups also seem to suggest something of memories and conversations past, while there is a comforting glow about Ballweg's work, there is also some essentially lost element - people. There are no persons present in the work, just empty environs, that seem as though someone is just outside the visual range that we see. It presents itself as a memory of people that had previously been there, or the anticipation of people to arrive to fill the room with actual conversation. The cups seem to represent missing souls, the kettle ready to heat up - all ready and lying in wait of some actual event.

"This Much I Remember" is a new departure from Ballweg's other kitchen and home interiors. Here, the barest hint of a cup, stove knobs and the kettle are visible through a decorative curtain screening or wall divider. In this piece the viewer is removed from actual engagement of the objects and relegated to another space, almost voyeuristic.Again the warm of the room and the patterned screen are inviting, but it is also a distanced memory. Ballweg's title would suggest that she is remembering an older time in her home; or maybe that of her mother's, or grandmother's.

For me, it conjures memories of being in my grandmother's house when I was a little girl. I would eagerly wait for her to bring out the special flower-painted china teacups and watch her make our afternoon tea. We would sit together at the kitchen table and talk about 'very important things' that only grandmothers and granddaughters could discuss. In all, Ballweg continues to fascinate us with these interiors of her memories, and helps up to conjure up our own.

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