Set the Twilight Reeling is poised to be an emotional experience for visitors. Carlson (1954–2020) communicated using a language of line, colors, space, form, contrast, and gesture to express narrative, and above all, feelings. The artwork draws in visitors and reminds us to recognize the experiences of others and find ways to connect.
Carlson wrote of his own work, “It is important to me, to paint my conviction about the subject, the spirit and less of the details. I choose the most barren, perhaps most brutal way to say what I want strongly and with the fewest possible things necessary.” The artist was dedicated to creating and to the creative process, working constantly in multiple media.
Carlson makes it clear through the videos in the gallery that he is speaking directly to his audience, acknowledging them in a direct, informal manner that creates a connection through the screen. Although not present in person to experience audience responses and people responding to one another at this exhibition, the spirit in which the artist created, and lived, will undoubtedly be alive in the gallery space.
“There is something conjured through the display and arrangement of artifacts from his workspace; they possess a certain magic that remains beyond the artist’s physical presence,” said Emily Vigil, MassMu Studio M and Silk Room Coordinator, who has helped curate the Set the Twilight Reeling exhibition.
Set the Twilight Reeling, like Carlson’s studio, offers an invitation to visitors to enter a welcoming space, read the catalog, and respond. It celebrates all the ways he was engaged with the human form to reveal the human condition, sourcing personal and shared experiences. It demonstrates how he workshopped ideas, discovering the best way to communicate through color, line, and media. “It is a reminder we all have something to share with each other,” Vigil says.
Carlson’s paintings and drawings were first featured in the Massillon Museum in 2017, when he had a solo Studio M exhibition.
MassMu will host bluesman Austin Walkin’ Cane for its Rhythms concert on Thursday, September 28, at 7:30 p.m., in tribute to Carlson’s passion for blues. Tickets ($12 or $10 for MassMu members) are available at MassMu.org/Tickets or by calling 330.833.4061.
A MassMusings podcast related to the Set the Twilight Reeling exhibition will be posted on Tuesday, October 31, at 12:00 p.m. EST. The exhibition catalog will be available in the OHregionalities, the Museum shop.
The artists’ reception for the Artists Group of Ten exhibition, Ten Point Perspective, will be held concurrently with the Carlson reception on September 16. It is also free and open to everyone with no reservations required.