In Otherworlds is a two-man exhibit of paintings and prints by painter-digital collagist Dan Hernandez and master draftsman-printmaker Craig Fisher, on display now through September 30 at downtown Toledo’s 20 North Gallery. These two Toledo art visionaries allow imagination to take them— and us— to places that seem at once familiar and uncanny. The source materials for each artist, along with differences in technique and material, result in two very different, but complementary, bodies of work.
Power of printmaking
Craig Fisher, a designer of business-to-business learning tools in addition to his prolific artistic output, works within the confines of traditional fine art printmaking. For this exhibit, he has created worlds that incorporate recognizable elements in improbable ways, transforming and recombining features from renaissance landscapes, natural history illustration, classical architectural drawings and more, into intriguing and often surreal scenarios.
One of his most satisfying pieces, Tower of Babble combines an over-scale rotary phone in the foreground with a period illustration of the tower itself in the background. Communication technology surrounds the tower, making it difficult to determine if the tower is being built or destroyed.
Sometimes less is more: Fisher’s strengths as a draftsman can occasionally result in over-elaborate and confusing compositions. But it’s hard to second-guess the artist’s single-minded pursuit of his vision.
Dan Hernandez, currently a University of Toledo associate professor of art, creates paintings where saints and angels mix freely with computer gaming figures. Elements of Persian miniatures, Renaissance urban landscapes and Chinese pavilions collide and morph into a persuasively imagined and often beautiful world.
Hernandez maintains a large archive of online images, from haloed Renaissance saints to invading space ships, which he repeats and re-combines imaginatively in his world-building endeavors. In The Massacre at Intelari Chapel, a battle between computer gaming figures and renaissance-era characters rages across the bottom of the composition, while above, three levels of coins similar to those in a computer game imply ample rewards for the victors, as saints look on from the heavens while consulting a Super Mario map.
“Despite the dramatic differences in media, visual style and subject matter, the works of these two distinguished area artists juxtapose like themes of science and technology with spirituality, as well as the combination of old and new media, to explore the metaphysical concept of the ‘otherworld’— the varying layers of existence between humankind’s experience of the ‘real’ world and the world of belief. This combination creates an intriguing, thought-provoking and unquestionably beautiful exhibit,” explains Condessa Croninger, 20 North Art Director.
On view through September 30.
Open Wednesday-Saturday. Gallery Hours: Noon-4pm. 20
North Gallery’s cocktail lounge, Venue: 4:30-9pm.
18 N. St. Clair St., 419-241-2400.