Looking Inward With the Enlightened Works of Liz Maugans and David Masters

Liz Maugans: Too Much Information and David Masters: Straddling the Great Divide

HEDGE Gallery, 1300 West 78th St.

216-650-4201, www.hedgeartgallery.com

How much information is too much information? Artist, activist, community leader, and all around powerhouse Liz Maugans answers that question in her current series of print-based collages at HEDGE with a question. Each piece in Too Much Information is autobiographical and investigative. They are hectic yet organized as Maugans, showing bedlam who's boss, lays mastery over color, texture, pattern, and medium.

The most dynamic and imposing pieces in the exhibition are the large, unframed collages. Maugans's creations work on many levels and one of them specifically because they are relatable. We can identify with her journey. "I Can Not Seem to Get Organized" forces us to face our own doubts and anxieties while simultaneously cheering us on. "Keep Going" in the upper left of the piece and the nurturing woman in the upper right corner giving us parenthetic comfort in the midst of life's chaos. "I don't know how long I can do this" is a phrase we've all muttered, screamed or glared at someone about.

"Cold Winter Ahead" is a stream of consciousness narrative according to Maugans. "There are people, myself included, who have had real tough patches in their life...Things are good, then bad, then okay. You are young, you take risks, face great obstacles, level out and find peace and understanding. We are constantly getting older. This is my record of that process." This collage seams together apartment listings, calls for odd jobs and opportunities, estate swaps, and "cash in a dash." It is a commentary on loss, adversity, and hope. Stark black, white and red all over, the palette is more subdued and sober than the rest of work in Too Much Information.

The five pieces along the brick wall facing the gallery windows are strong and, despite their size compared to the rest of the work in the show, they are intellectually and psychologically huge. In these framed print-collages Maugans makes use of her own archived work, which she has layered with the new colors in her repertoire adding to an already great body of autobiographical work.

In the adjoining gallery, David Masters creates an actual, physical divide with his exhibition, Straddling the Great Divide. The underlying stream-of-consciousness scribbling peeks through chasms and canyons, creating a philosophical dialogue within each piece. The artist states, "This relationship between the static and dynamic, rigid and organic, speaks directly to the greater truth of our temporal frames and eternal souls."

The show's title piece, "Straddling the Great Divide," demonstrates a vertical heartbeat with its sharp angles and contemplative planes of gray, rose, and lilac hues. The lines on the right of the work seem to be a veil pushed aside as the interior markings bashfully peer out from the shadows. Across the room, "The Problem with False Idols" is an illuminated and textural dynamo. Using wood, wallpaper, joint compound, graphite, enamel, and caulk, Masters creates relief of his scribbles on the outside of the piece, which bursts open like a book falling off the shelf to reveal its true essence. It's an accomplished piece of introspection.

As Lao Tsu states, "Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing the self is enlightenment..." Maugans and Masters are on their way, and we are delighted to bear witness.

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