Mary Lucier and Phil Bender exhibits at Belmar Lab

404 S Upham St, near the intersection of Wadsworth and Alameda, Lakewood, CO, January 23rd-May 1st Mary Lucier, The Plains of Sweet Regret, and Phil Bender, Last Place, two exhibits that engage in the process of nostalgia and the transitory aspects of memory, opened at the Belmar Laboratory of Art and Ideas last month. Lucier’s project, a six screen video installation, depicts the disappearing small-town farming communities of North Dakota, replaced by agri-culture and big business practices. An equally anguished and exuberant portrayal, landscapes fold, silhouettes of cowboys intertwine and collapse, long grass cradles dilapidated houses, a newborn calf shrugs off its placenta. We are asked to interpret memory in terms of space, as Lucier simultaneously captures the creation and annihilation of rural American culture. Comparatively, Phil Bender’s exhibit is a meticulously ordered collection of objects not quite archaic, not quite present-day. Titled for the gallery space which is presumably the “last place” these almost-artifacts will be used, Last Place includes a series of tool boxes, beaded belts, wire whisks, matchbooks, yard sticks, hangers, tennis rackets and more. This project invites a meditation on how memory can settle on the object world and moreover, engaged in the obsessive habit of object-collecting, implies the perfectly human habit to obsess about (and attempt to organize an understanding) of the past. The most intriguing dynamic that arises between the two exhibits is the collision of memory with material to create artifact and legend, the collision of gallery space with memorial to expose the emotional presence of loss. Belmar Lab’s current exhibits grapple with the relationship of creative exploration to the fleeting, abstract, never (quite) tangible procedures of how we remember. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket photos provided by Belmar Lab