JoAnn Verburg: Present Tense

BY Melissa Feldman, February 26, 2013

JoAnn Vergurg, Still Life with Serial Killers. Courtesy G.Gibson Gallery

This slim survey of color photographs, on view through March 23 at the G. Gibson Gallery, covers the last 20 years, which is how long the Minnesota-based artist JoAnn Verburg has been living part-time in Spoleto, Italy. It captures her dual sensibility of wry, unfussy scenes from everyday life—at the café or the clothesline–and more classical views of angular Italian town squares and the golden-lit countryside.  These modes are not so distinct, though, that an idiosyncratic 1994 image, Reading at the Gumbo Limbo Apts., showing a cropped hand holding an open book in a tired-looking, wood paneled interior is incongruous with a diptych of a gnarled olive tree, Tango/Tangle, 1999, whose leaves seem to brush against the picture plane, and your own face.  

JoAnn Verburg, Tango/Tangle. Courtesy G.Gibson Gallery

Contemporary trauma often invades the tranquility; in the staged Still Life with Serial Killers (1991), postcards of the heads of famous painted ladies of the past, such as Manet’s Olympia, are lined up next to a vase containing a bouquet fashioned from a rolled up newspaper featuring mug shots of serial killers. No matter the subject, this under recognized artist is a manipulator of space and time, showing us their fluid boundaries.