Studio glass unfettered, plus collages of 'Dreams,' at Dixon

Harvey Littleton's 'Implied Movement,' from 1987.

Harvey Littleton's "Implied Movement," from 1987.

Now that the flowers are gone, you can see the glass better.

That means that with the elimination of the live floral arrangements featured in the biennial Memphis Flower Show that ran April 17 and 18 at Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the works of contemporary studio glass that the flowers related to can be viewed on their own.

Harvey Littleton's 'Implied Movement,' from 1987.

Harvey Littleton's "Implied Movement," from 1987.

Adoni Chevez's 'Odalisque' is among the self-taught artist's collages that appear to be influenced by 20th century master Henri Matisse.

Adoni Chevez's "Odalisque" is among the self-taught artist's collages that appear to be influenced by 20th century master Henri Matisse.

"Anything But Clear: The Studio Glass Movement, 1979-2009" presents about 55 highly diverse works on loan from The Beverly and Sam Ross Collection of Contemporary Studio Glass at Christian Brothers University as well as from other local collectors and artists and some out-of-town galleries. The exhibition opens Sunday and runs through June 13.

Also opening Sunday is "Adoni Chevez: Alone with His Dreams," an exhibition of about 25 small collages by self-taught artist Jerome Schmidt, who signed his works with the mysterious name Adoni Chevez.

"The glass really looks spectacular opened up like this, with space around each piece," said Dixon assistant curator Julie Pierotti, circling a large lavender and mauve shell-like piece by Dale Chihuly, probably the best-known glass artist in the country. "We brought a lot of it out from the wall. With the works on pedestals, you can walk around them and see things you couldn't see before."

The works in "Anything But Clear" range across a dazzling array of styles and uses and forms of glass, from abstract to decorative to symbolic, running the rainbow spectrum of colors and the imaginative spectrum of effects. There's the lithe rhythmic delicacy of Harvey Littleton's "Implied Movement" -- Littleton is another pioneering practitioner of studio glass -- with its sense that nothing indeed is implied except movement; and there's Clifford Rainey's monumental "Genomics," an expansive wall piece that, in a critique of conformity and human engineering, presents glass baby heads, up to 36, with barcodes imprinted on the back, each displayed on a little shelf held by a stainless steel tray.

The word "decorative" probably would not have meant anything to Jerome Schmidt, aka Adoni Chevez. Self-taught artists work in their own world of dreams and reality where labels are trivial. Little is know about Chevez. He was an only child, born and raised in Breese, a small town in southern Illinois, east of St. Louis, and he lost most of his hearing at an early age. As a result, art became an outlet for his feelings and a means of expression.

His education occurred at the public library, where he went every day, not only to look at books but to use out-of-date magazines as a source of paper with which to make his colorful collages. Schmidt must have known that "Adoni" is a variation of "Adonai," or "Lord," one of the names of God in the Jewish tradition and the source of the Adonis figure in Greek myth.

The first impression these 24 pieces -- hung in the MalloryWurtzburger Galleries -- impart is how small they are, some no bigger than a notecard, others perhaps twice that size. The next is that in some of his daily visits to the library, Adoni Chevez must have encountered books of the collages by the 20th century master Henri Matisse, because the influence is readily apparent. Chevez was no rank imitator, though. Working on a miniature scale, he conjures his unique kingdom of biblical and romantic fantasy, highly formalized, obsessively detailed and filled with whimsy.

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"Anything But Clear: The Studio Glass Movement, 1979-2009," and "Adoni Chevez: Alone with His Dreams"

"Anything But Clear" is on exhibit Sunday through June 13, and "Adoni Chevez" runs Sunday through June 27. Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park. For more information, call 761-5250, or go to dixon.org.

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