ANNA VON MERTENS:
COLOR: A LOVE STORY
UNIVERSITY GALLERY AT UMASS LOWELL
870 BROADWAY STREET
JANUARY 22 THROUGH MARCH 3
by Greg Morell
There are two divergent roads of aesthetic departure for New Hampshire artist Anna Von Mertens. In one direction, we discover works of popular whimsy — a lighthearted exploration of the emoji. Fanciful, playful, vibrantly colorful and deliciously cute, it’s art candy you just want to eat.
However, the other path that Von Mertens explores is far different.
Both will on view in “Color: A Love Story,” an exhibition running from January 22 through March 3 in the University Gallery at UMass Lowell.
In the main gallery, Von Mertens will present two beds, side by side, in the open expanse of the gallery floor. It is not the beds themselves, but what is on the beds that is the point of the piece. Two hand-dyed, hand-sewn cotton quilts cover the beds, in what the artist perceives as conversation. It is basically a conversation of color, but how those colors got to where they are is the mystery in the stew.
This is hip-deep, highly intellectualized conceptual art. Each of these quilts is an exacting marathon of execution that includes hand-dyeing small squares of white cotton to the desired shade and the actual precise, mathematical construction of the quilt, in addition to the convoluted process of coming up with the motivation for the color, which boggles the limits of credibility.