Tom Berg at Wade Wilson ART

- August 2, 2012

“More serious, complex and disquieting…”

I recently read the following wine reviews: “deep ruby with purple-black highlights, great viscosity, a beautiful bouquet of violets, jammy blackberry fruit, powerful structure and great length” and "narcotic strawberry midtones with a grimy espresso aroma."

These descriptions remind me of the absurdity of trying to analyze a sunset, when intellect comes up against passion and words fail. So ,too, with verbal and written descriptions of an artist’s work sent out by galleries to promote an upcoming show.

Veteran Santa Fe artist Tom Berg opens a show this Friday and Wade Wilson ART, his gallery on Canyon Road, put out this about his work:  "Berg's work has always addressed itself to a tension between the dimensional and the flat, but these tensions are now internalized in the painterly approach which absorbs the figure into the field.  At the same time, the mood has become more serious, complex and disquieting." For me, like a wine review, this says very little about the experience. 

I have viewed the work of Tom Berg for most of the 33 years he has shown in Santa Fe and his work has always been about the direct experience of it – about the journey. I have seen the chairs depicted in his work on countless occasions and it has never been about the technique, the skill or, even the light. I feel that seeing his work is about how you respond to it. I’m relatively sure that each person who sees one of his empty chairs finds his or her own narrative, his or her own personal story, his or her own response.

The work has always taken me on a journey and words fail me because the journey is always a personal one. Like the very distinctive framing in a Woody Allen movie or the cropping used by many great photographers, the eye and the mind are directed, first by the artist to what he or she wants you to see; but the absence, that which is out of the frame, can also create a powerful dialogue. The person or persons not in a Tom Berg painting create my personal dialogue with each work that I see.

The Tom Berg show opens with an artist reception at Wade Wilson ART tomorrow and runs through September 15th. I hope you get a chance to see his show.  

By the way, that last wine review:  “narcotic strawberry…”, is totally fictional and produced, as a spoof, from a random wine review generator. Try it, it's great fun. I just clicked on it and this came up:  “A murderous marigold perfume and misunderstood ketchup essences are incorporated in the 1765 Cabernet from Mussolini Winery.”

Maybe I can come up with an algorithm that can produce gallery reviews…hum? Let’s see: 200 Santa Fe art galleries, times an average of eight artists, times a minimum of 10 shows a year that’s…? Wow, I better get moving here and contact the U. S. Patent office.