We stare at the image of a perfectly flat tile wall—an obdurate barrier—with red, yellow, brown and mainly blue and blue-gray components. Some of the tiles are chipped, and the upper-center of the mosaic is smeared and discolored. That is one of Jon Horvath’s renditions of home—distressed and implacable, yet attracting. Then we turn to the opposite gallery wall and see a portrait of an older woman standing on snow-covered ground, with a distant line of denuded trees behind her. She is wrapped from head to toe in a white winter coat and she glares at the camera with tight, downturned lips; this “Portrait of My Mother” is another view of home for Horvath. The power of those two images, facing each other in the gallery, creates a force field that threatens to crush the images of the five other gifted artists in this group show reflecting on domesticity.
Those others, though they take more conventional routes, should not be overlooked: Greg Ruffing’s vision of home as a garage sale, T.J. Proechel’s weirdly zany ruined rooms, Justin Schmitz’s down-home takes on ramshackled rural folk, Tony Favarula’s equally nitty-gritty and witty family scenarios, all the way to Barbara Diener’s spacious Midwestern landscapes. Each series hits hard when you hone in on it, but Horvath provides the deep psychological bottom line that structures the exhibition. Curators Tyler Blackwell and Nicole White are to be praised for putting together such a rollicking trip through the photographic psyche, spiked with humor and undercut by the underside. (Michael Weinstein)
Through August 31 at Schneider Gallery, 230 West Superior.