The devil is in the details and in Josef Zimmerman’s case, it’s a Flame Elemental. “Forgotten Transmissions” at Fancy and Staple Gallery. In each of Zimmerman’s exhibits, there is a hearkening back to childhood. Sometimes it is a collection of his father’s beer cans, a series of converse Hi-Tops stretching back to his baby carriage or a recreation of his desk at parochial school. The Flame Elemental is a toy from that time, it is a wad of poorly painted, injection-molded vinyl. No moving parts, unblinking eyes, crummy paint job, made in Hong Kong. Zimmerman has selected this artifact to represent his latest body of work for the “Forgotten Transmissions” show at Fancy and Staple Gallery in downtown Fort Wayne. Other pieces include meticulous geometric patterns, hand painted onto raw wood, machine-like and perfect. They offer a calm counterpoint to the messiness of the shadowboxed objects in museum quality cases.
The dialog between the disparate pieces goes beyond simple coincidence. There is a subtext that speaks to the desire for agency in a messy life and the need to create totems against a complicated early life that can’t or won’t be rewritten to provide meaning.
The geometry of yearning for control. What part of this conversation does the single, enshrined bone represent? Is it the finality of death? Do the painted wood pieces operate in the now, suspended, like ourselves, between unwitting birth and inevitable death? Are they an effort to erect some order in the chaos?
Like all satisfying stories, there is a beginning, middle and end to the works displayed, a timeline that presents itself upon further scrutiny. The painted geometrics offer a cool shadow to rest in, away from the relentless glare of windows to the past and future. Linger and enjoy the peace for a moment.
Opening Saturday, May 11, 6-9 PM. 1111 Broadway, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802