People couldn't help but pack the central room of the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (427 D Street) Friday night. Their awe and curiosity stemmed from a visual memoir by printmaker Garry Kaulitz whose ambitious, alarming and poignant stream of consciousness narrative speaks to war, loss, hope and the timeless trifles and turmoil of humanity.
But don't think this heady material hovers beyond the grit of day to day life. In fact, the show oozes with details and sensory metaphors, providing multiple points of access. After all, Kaulitz made the 64 monoprints in 64 days not as an autobiography of 64 years of life, but as a reflection on the world he knows.
Making thoughful, provocative art on a timeline sounds daunting, but Kaulitz succeeds resoundingly.
That said, all four shows at the International deserve attention. The simplicity and elegance of the mixed media work by Heidi Reifenstein of Juneau looks at first meditative, but seems to actually delve into the flesh and blood urgency of making sense of a complex world, and then finding the beauty of it.
Meanwhile, Christina Barber plays with the animal nature of human beings in her body of work in the gust room while John Bavaro's giant fish painting on panels radiates with shimmering color in the south gallery.
If you wandered through the gallery on Friday, go back at a quieter time. If you haven't seen the shows at all, don't miss them.
While in the area, stop by Kaladi Brothers Coffee downtown (621 6th Ave) to check out the wonderful show of political poster by thirty-five designers from all over the United States and the world.
Occasionally meditative, but more often enraged, the works in "seeing red" speak to global warming, affordable housing, media complicity in warfare, the lingering effects of Agent Orange, genocide in Darfur, and much, much more. Proceeds from the sale of these silkscreen prints go to organizations chosen by each artist.
Definitely check out the poster "mukluks" by local artist, Roland Adams, who used iconic imagery and crossing telephone lines to talk about what gets lost when cultures collide.