In Search of Inspiration 

ADA gathers various artists who are looking for something new.

This month ADA hosts small shows of paintings by Canadian Kim Dorland and Bruce Wilhelm from Richmond. Both artists paint landscapes that seem as connected to myth as they are to reality. Dorland's scenes of dense, dark woods represented with heavy impasto include menacing figures of hunters or of wolves. Weaving strokes of hunter's orange throughout his images, Dorland seems to blur the distinctions between hunter and hunted, man and nature.

Bruce Wilhelm also concerns himself with man's relationship to nature. Here, he includes a few muddy images of hunters in backwoods, but these darkly comical landscapes have recently given way to more poetic scenes painted with reserve and somberness. Now working on large sheets of paper, he paints watery, ethereal vistas that exude an Eastern sensibility toward form, light and color.

A group show, curated by John Henry Blatter and Derek Coté, master of fine arts degree candidates at Virginia Commonwealth University, occupies the front portion of the gallery. This contribution, "for a(n) relation(s)," mixes artists from across the country and abroad, many of whom are documenting ordinary occurrences, mental musings and sketchy ideas for public consumption.

A better title for this show might be "Scary Things I Do in My Free Time."

Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's two-channel video installation called "Coffee and Milk" captures the artists playing in their food, as it were. Jason Szalla's itemized lists from his series "Ideas and Observations" are printed on green analysis paper and read like to-do reminders for a seriously overactive mind. His lists include things to think about, ideas for artworks and art-related fantasies.

The collective lack of inhibition here isn't nearly as beguiling as curators Blatter and Coté's own unexpected contribution to the show — a copy of Daily Constitutional, their new art publication for and by artists, some of whom are represented here. Art Director and Editor Coté and Editor-in Chief Blatter produce the small magazine with the idea that artists should be able to write about their own art, that their writing should be accessible, and that artists shouldn't have to live in New York City to be taken seriously. Contributors discuss their latest projects, announce manifestos, and submit documentation of their work with a palpable sense of liberation and relief that there may be someone out there who understands.

Maybe not a good read for average audiences, but it's well-conceived and executed for the "trade." And Daily Constitutional is a good sign that Richmond can and should be where artists want to be. As a want ad in the first issue promotes:
Hardly used, still in box.
Reply to box 67432.

New work by Kim Dorland, Bruce Wilhelm and "for a(n) relation(s)," curated by the staff of Daily Constitutional, runs through May 20 at ADA, 228 W. Broad St. For more info go to www.adagallery.com or www.dailyconstitutional.org.

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