Article and photographs by Daniel McGee

In just over twenty pieces, SVSU art students Amy Gibas and Megan Ciszek’s exhibit at the Sweet Boutique in downtown Bay City has a lot of variety.

In paint, sawdust, and other materials, Gibas balances the deliberate composition of geometric design and the more radical spontaneity of her artistic influences, Frank Stella and Jasper Johns. In many pieces, tones and textures gradate in stately chevrons and sunny, concentric circles. Her “Lace” assemblages of folded fabric, whiplashed and printed in bright blue, gold, red, and green paint, challenges the boredom and preciousness normally associated with that frilly substance of the titles. All of the Gibas’s works reveal the textures and depths that emerge when different media meet on the canvas.

Ciszek’s photographs might at first come across as studies strictly formal in nature, and they can be appreciated as such: one can see the diagonal flanks of an red picnic table corresponding to the vacant blue beach and skyline in the background, or appreciate in another piece the contrasts and continuities of the swaying green grass in the foreground and the inorganic verticality of the white church in the background. Upon closer examination, however, one will also discover stark symbols and strong emotional character (note how the simple placement of keys and red ribbons transform standard nature photographs into stirring mises-en-scène).

Ciszek explains that her series revolves around the theme of waiting, and through their deep shadows, saturated colors, and dream-like images, these photos keep viewers in a state of anticipation for some kind of answer. With the addition of a few man-made objects and attention to the play of light and shadow, the photos reveal visual patterns while insisting on a deeper impenetrableness, whether it be of the natural or psychological realm.

Though markedly different, the two artist’s pieces go very well together. Gibas’s interest in certain colors and shapes seem clarified by her collaborator’s shots of flowers, water, and forests, and alongside the former’s abstractions, Ciszek’s hues seem to brighten. They pace their works with one another, and this results in a contemplative, rewarding experience for visitors—a fine contemplation, in fact, of the world through two unique lenses.

The show is open now through March 27, 2013.

Saturday, March 2, 2013: Exhibit reception from 3-5 PM

The Sweet Boutique is located at 816 Washington Ave. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Saturday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

© Daniel McGee, 2013