Men in Their Medium: Mel Spinar Exhibit

4 September 2010

Those of you around the Sioux Falls area would do well to head to the Washington Pavilion this autumn for the Mel Spinar visual art exhibit.  Spinar has had a lengthy and influential career in this region, and has taken several approaches to representation of his world, but none is more arresting than his portraits of men in the 1970s and 80s.

Spinar’s images of men capture men – real men – at ease and unassuming.  They reflect a masculine confidence, though several of the portraits, I think, betray a note of anxiety of the age.  The 1970s and 80s were turbulent times for gender, and the flamboyant designs men wore in this period suggests this.  Spinar catches these men performing their lives, working, playing, smoking, befriending, lounging, even flirting.  The intimacy one would hope for in portraiting comes through, the love of the sacred commonplace.  There is something of the spirit of Walt Whitman in the gallery.

At the Washington Pavilion through November 10, 2010.


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