Vexing History

Painter Eric Bohr and sculptor/installation artist Charlie Milgrim employ scavenged artifacts to explore how past and present mingle in the vexed/stimulated imagination. Bohr's paintings/collages juxtapose real objects and painted landscape elements to create subdued philosophic meditations on the vanished landscape of his Michigan childhood; the lost family farms and the razed auto plants are represented by humble found objects - imagined relics like the burlap sack in "nutmeat tonnage".

- DeWitt Cheng writing in the East Bay Express
3/18 - 24/ 2009

Ember Days

Gertrude Stein was wrong: There are many "theres" in Oakland. The bigger, better Oakland Museum of California has been joined by a cluster of spaces on 25th Street, including the bigger, better Mercury 20 Gallery, which shares an old glass factory with the bigger, better Vessel Gallery (reviewed last week).
Lest this start sounding triumphalist, it should be noted that Eric Bohr's Mercury 21 painting assemblages and Charlie Milgrim's sculptures and installations are adamantly green in their sentiments. In these abstract/conceptual works, Constructivism's utopian geometry gets deconstructed, or at least weathered (like the paintings Munch left outdoors for seasoning), reflecting our current war against oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the Catholic religious calendar, Ember Days are three days set aside seasonally for fasting, prayer, and reflection on our relationship to nature's cycles. Bohr's abstract paintings, with their subdued, wintry palettes, and their creative reuse of salvaged industrial materials, are, despite their beauty, somber reminders of Rust Belt decay and decrepitude (he's from Michigan) and of our ecological short-sightedness. The crossed black beams, fenceposts, or train cars set against scumbled red backgrounds in "Rail" and "2 Sticks" denote danger and collapse, while the ethereal "Ember Days" reads almost as an erased drawing, or a Cubist/Dada collage enveloped in Turneresque fog. Bohr has also shot a video of the landscape rolling past a train window that is curiously compelling: See the USA!

DeWitt Cheng Writing in the East Bay Express
May 19th, 2010