Review: Deliberate Impulse, Group Exhibition

Review: Deliberate Impulse for The Art House, at Arts on Elston Gallery
By: Amy Haddad

July 15, 2016

Expect the unexpected. This is a truism in life and art—underscored by five artists making up the show, “Deliberate Impulse.” On July 15, visitors delighted in an exhibition that cohesively brought together different artistic styles, culminating in a visual dance between abstraction and representation. 

The front gallery, which featured all five artists, packed the biggest punch. Upon entering, visitors were immediately drawn to Lisa Sulkin’s four-part piece, “My Four Weddings.” This is partly because of the unusual diamond hang. But,the distinct narrative scenes—one canvas for each of the artist’s four weddings—kept visitors lingering.

 Lisa Sulkin, “My Four Weddings.”           


Ken Hogrefe, “Cohesion” 

Ken Hogrefe’s “Cohesion” was a welcomed visual response to Sulkin’s work. It consists of four abstract panels, also arranged in a diamond shape. The juxtaposition was laudable. “Cohesion” encourages careful study of the hypnotic, gestural lines filling each panel. Together, the two diamond-shaped pieces, placed diagonally across from each other, created a dynamic, magnetic pull.

Christine Connor, “Red and Gray.”

The interplay between representation and abstraction was repeated throughout the space, albeit in different ways. Mary Dorrell and Christine Connor, an Artist in Residence at The Art House,both used distinct techniques suggesting stasis and movement. Dorrell captures the same inert empty city scene with two different color palettes: a warm one in “Acoma, A City in the Clouds,” and cool one in “Near the Stars.” At the same time, the colors imply temporality, as day turns to night. In contrast, take Connor’s abstract piece, “Red and Grey,” across the gallery. A deep red color stains a sizable portion of the canvas implying permanence; blue and red staccato dots indicate movement.

Another joy of the show was studying five different artistic styles. Alena Ahrens’s painting, “Untitled,” reflects her dance background. The movement of paint is soothing with a dramatic jolt of a yellow curved line. “Untitled” gives credence to the artist’s claim that her artwork is an “artifact of performance.” The show continued into a small side gallery, where visitors relished in abstract works by Connor and Ahrens; representational pieces by Dorrell and Sulkin filled the hallway connecting the two galleries. 

A common theme links the artists together. “[They] are all exploring the balance between invention and discovery in the painting process,” explained Rebecca George, the exhibition’s curator and Founder andDirector of The Art House. Instead of planning a painting out, Dorrell added, the artists responded to impulses as their painting developed. Each artist did this differently. Hogrefe, also an Artist in Residence at The Art House (“Deliberate Impulse” was the first exhibition of his residency), explained his process. In “Cohesion,” he deliberately chose thetools, colors and technique, but the brushstrokes themselves depended on impulse: “feeling and intuition.” The result was a show that radiated with energy, with a tacit reminder that letting go of preconceived ideas and relying on impulses can have unexpected, but worthy outcomes.

Amy Haddad writes for Veritas Health. She is also a freelance art writer and blogger. You can read her blog, Art Diversions, at and follow her on Twitter at @amymhaddad.


Posted on July 24, 2016 .