Martha Macleish and the Shadows

I took a group of my students (from the University of Missouri at Columbia) over to Kansas City to see a bit of art this past weekend. The main attraction was the Martha Macleish show at Longview Community College. One of the things I found so interesting about her work is the fact that the shadows they cast – being illuminated by the syncopated lamps of a gallery lighting system – are at least as physically striking and necessary to the experience of the art as the objects themselves are. These shadows seem to extend each work in that they transfer the structure and form of the piece into space and onto the surrounding walls and floor. While this seems obvious – it’s what all shadows do – in this case it’s much more significant. This is because the laminated, layered construction of the work is mirrored in the stratified step gradients of the multi-vectored shadows and the negotiated, sometimes grungy, sometimes glossy finish of the materials is echoed in the distended, bending atmospherics created as light falls over their spaces and shapes. The effect is mesmerizing and stimulating, leading viewers to shift their perspective again and again, bobbing and weaving around each piece to see the secrets they hold in their multi-faceted alignments and angles. The work is very much worth seeing if you get the chance. Martha granted me permission to post some images of the shadows her work created at the Longview show. Click on each to enjoy them larger.


Nine years ago this month I was hired at Good’s of Evanston, in Evanston, IL. It was a great place for an artist to be – and the best art stores always employ artists. Good’s hired artists as clerks, shipping and receiving crews, framing specialists, and book-workers. I started there as the primary shipping and receiving guy. I’d deal with the trucks of supplies that arrived each day, check the orders to make sure they were complete, fill out paperwork for what was off, and stage the checked merchandise so the floor crew could either store or put out for sale.

One of my favorite coworkers was Fred. He was thoughtful, well-spoken, engaged in the world, had a quirky sense of humor and great taste in music. He turned me on to Kitchens of Distinction and HUM, both bands I still listen to all these years later.

Me and Fred hanging out in the paper department at Good’s

Fred and I would often engage in debates of various kinds, always talking politics and public policy, musing on the current events and the changing post-911 world. Our friend and fellow Good’s employee Ronnie would often come upon our chats and, eventually, he would provide outside commentary and “lead-in” type introductions when he saw that we were ramping up for a talk. Over time, Ronnie created the fictitious “GoETV” network as a place where On Point! With Fred Sturkey and Matt Ballou (as Ronnie named it) could take place.

Good times, good memories. Here’s hoping Fred is doing well!  Unfortunately Good’s no longer carries art supplies, so much of the old crew is gone. But they still do high quality framing, so if you need something done and you’re in the Chicago area go see them!