New Paths Forward: Day & Night Projects at Tempus Projects

Connecting Atlanta artists with the Tampa art community.

The Reroute: Day and Night Projects

Through June 2.

Tempus Projects, 4636 N Florida Ave., Tampa.

As exhibitions in the Tampa Bay area dissect and expand the term “local,” The Reroute, a group exhibition of Day and Night Projects, provides an interesting mashup between southern artist collectives and reaches out to new paths for the sake of sharing art with local audiences.

The Atlanta-based collective displays an array of their intimately scaled works at the Tempus Projects, a non-profit art space in Tampa, through June 2.

Reroute seems to be a way to create connections and paths between the seemingly disparate studio practices of the four artists and founding members of Day & Night Projects: Steven L. Anderson, William Downs, Mark Leibert and Tori Tinsley.

While the works could be divided in half with two artists leaning towards nature-oriented works and the other two towards more figure-dominant works, connection is always the overarching theme, whether it’s with the land, the spirit, other bodies or the self.

Anderson’s meditative tree ring artworks are reminiscent of Buddhist “One-Stroke Dragons” in that each mark appears to be endless (until the color is changed, of course), while it also nods to the tradition of mandalas. Yet, despite the connections to symbolic and spiritual practices, the graphic design and quality of the line work -made by high-intensity markers and pens- throws an industrial tinge on the works which are constructed on collaged bits of paper.

Leibert also approaches nature with noticeable traces of the human element. Using kitsch imagery of the coconut trees of his youth in Honolulu with mixed media paintings resembling mural art, the spray paint aesthetic creates a hazy, dream-like image. Most of his “On Palms” series is painted in a dark, somewhat muted palette as opposed to a typically vibrant tropical scene, seeming to speak not only of fading memories but also fading paradises and natural lands.

The most compelling work can be found in both figurative artists, Downs and Tinsley. Downs’ interest lies in the body and in all of the permutations of the word: flesh, mind, and spirit. Many figures have multiple breasts, penises, or even a little bit of both, like in “Hermaphrodity.” His strongest works are those that are less methodical are more spontaneous, with quick marks they nurture the imperfection of the permanently placed lines. There is a dark, impending feel (even a violence) to the haphazard drawings that aim to capture complex emotions through poetic contours.

Downs expresses the power of the body with bold, black ink marks and explores body parts as accessories of power and sacred symbols of reproduction and death. By essentially deconstructing and re-building the human form, he examines how we demolish or cherish our bodies, from the tangible to the spiritual.

While I could see where Tinsley’s signature pink blob-like characters might be walked over without a thought, there is an incredible amount of deep emotion. From simple dotted eyes to a curved line for a frown, it would be a mistake to see the silly-natured and dorky expressions squarely.  There’s something about the stark reduction of human characteristics that seamlessly encapsulates complicated emotions in an empathetic emoji-like way that allows audiences to connect with their ambiguity.

Tinsley’s “Hugs” series is based off her evolving relationship with her mother as she becomes enveloped by a brain disease called frontotemporal degeneration—trying to hold on to memories and hope without succumbing to despair. “Beachside” is an easy favorite, with two pink, egg-shaped figures sitting side by side in a pastel colored impressionistic setting. One figure looks over to the other with an ear to ear smile while the other looks down at its feet with a soft frown.

Artists hold incredible power when they can make audiences feel for the actors in their scenes and Tinsley sure knows how to hook you right in the feelers and to connect with her narratives.

Whether rerouting the path involving political or social landscapes, or bridging gaps between the art hubs of the south, it’s worth stopping in toTempus Projects to see how these kinds of unique collaborations between collectives could create new directions for sharing artwork and ideas.

Caitlin Albritton, CL Tampa's visual arts critic, spends her time tracking down art you might not see anywhere else. She's also an artist in her own right. Follow her on Instagram or read her blog


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