still life left in the Dead Horse
By Charles Cassady
Published Oct. 6, 2004
year ago, shortly after marking the third anniversary of the downtown
Lakewood art gallery, curator-founder Kim Schoel announced the venue's
days were drawing to a close. Yet since then the Dead Horse Gallery
has mounted a retrospective on local artist Douglas Max Utter and
sponsored shows at away locations, such as the Avon Lake Public
evening, the night-of-the-living Dead Horse continues. The exhibit
space has an opening reception party from 6 to 10 p.m. for what
Shoel promises is the gallery's next-to-last exhibit: "Creeping
Through," an exhibit of recent paintings by Amy Casey.
mostly in acrylic paint on paper, often depicts urban environments
of factory smokestacks, working-class bars, tire tracks and row
houses, but with whimsical animal figures in place of human inhabitants.
The pieces have a strong sense of location, and Casey often paints
these fantasy scapes from memories of seeing them flash by in commuter-train
windows, imparting a particularly dreamy quality.
was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. After studying art in her hometown
and at the Yale Summer School of Art and Music in Norfolk, Conn.,
she earned a bachelors at the Cleveland Institute of Art, graduating
in 1999. Now a Cleveland resident (after a year in Chicago), she
has been exhibited in Wisconsin, Illinois and at the Cleveland Biennial
at Cleveland State University.
also has another professional tie to the world of fine art. "I worked
as a security guard at the Cleveland Museum of Art for three years,
and then I moved to Chicago and worked briefly at the Oriental Institute
Museum. I finished up my art-guarding career with a year at The
Terra Museum of American Art, also in Chicago."
An artist working
museum security is not uncommon, said Casey -- she knows several
currently on duty at CMA. Apart from ministering to the occasional
ill visitor (once the layout of the Terra Museum induced severe
dizziness in a vertigo-afflicted woman), Casey's routine usually
meant lengthy contemplation time immersed in paintings, sculptures
and installations. She totals her tour-of-duty as equalling 178
days, solid, of standing in art galleries. A creative feast? Or
somedays the other...Occasionally, you see something new or intriguing
in a piece you've stared at (sometimes literally) for hours, and
that can be very inspiring. When you have so much time with the
art, your ideas and appreciation for it begins to change. You practically
build a relationship with some of it.
you might have hated looking at in a two-hour museum trip, you can
grow to love standing with for days, or months, or years. So I found
being in museums as an employee began to challenge some of my tastes
and interests, and introduced me to whole new genres of art.
it's just tiring, long, difficult days, and when you get home, all
you want to do is sit down or take a nap and not look at any more
art for the rest of the day. You also have to be very self-entertaining
to stand all day alone in the same room or rooms, no matter how
great the art. It can be easy to burn out on your own thoughts."
that she now works as a gallery assistant, preparing and installing
artwork -- not in a museum.
The Dead Horse
gave Amy Casey her first solo show, in November, 2002. While critics
have commented on ephemeral and transitory elements her environmental
studies, Casey said that the exhibit space's mortality was not on
her mind while she did her new paintings, "but I'm sure it will
be on everyone's mind when they are in the gallery."
She said visitors
should perhaps keep this thought: "If they support their local galleries
and artists, they would see a lot less local galleries closing."
Amy Casey at the Dead Horse Gallery are on view from Oct. 8 through
30. When it ends the Dead Horse will ride once more, with another
Douglas Max Utter show.