Sunday, February 22, 2009

Notes From The Morning After #3

As usual, you get a back and forth between Jeriah and I. Enjoy.

Shit I liked:
Roots and Culture:
1) Pictures of record covers by Todd Simeone. Clean, simple, reminiscent. Good fit for show.
2) Coax by George Monteleone and Alexander Stuart. Made me giggle, always a good sign.

Western Exibitions:
1) Relief images by Miller & Shellabarger in the back room. Subtle and beautiful, as long as you’re willing to squat down and press your face against the wall to get the whole picture.

Jeriah: Are you talking about the black rectangles? I didn’t see anything on them.

S: Yeah, they were reliefs of an image of two bearded men’s heads facing each other with their beards intertwined.

J: I liked the black-on-white cutout piece behind the desk; associations with Kara Walker are pretty much inevitable with black cutout paper, but I liked the piece. I apparently didn’t give the stuff in the back room enough attention, as I totally missed the embossed images.

S: (Shit I liked continued)

Three Walls:
1) The Tract House, a group of tracts organized by Lisa Anne Auerbach. Love stuff I can take home, made me reminisce for the Anarchist Book Fair. I got one copy of each, once I read ‘em all I’ll update you. “I hate you Baltimore” brought back some memories.

J: I read a few, enjoyed them. I interpreted them more as a kind of CrimeThink activist thing, like something we’d pick up at Red Emma’s in Baltimore, or like you said, at the Anarchist Book Fair. I’d like to see them distributed in a non-art setting, though. In this context, with the big stacks of them, it was kind of overload. Too much information to take in at once, so your approach, of taking them all to be read later, makes sense. It’s not that it was a bad presentation, I liked the feel of the space with the table with all the take aways in the little room, and the T-shirts hanging in the main space.

S: (Shit I liked continued)

Packer Schopf:
1) Heavy Metal Animals by Steve Seeley. Ok, so animals, especially North American wild life, plus Metal, equal a winning combination. I loved it and even waxed a bit poetic about it’s subtleties when prodded by Jeriah.
2) I’ve been expecting you by Matthew Schommer. Very Edward Gory, sad and made me think of my worms (I have a worm bin in my pantry, not internal parasites).

J: I liked both of those works, in fact, if I recall correctly I pointed them out to you because I liked them. Heavy Metal animals is fun, and funny, and juvenile in the best way possible. I don’t read it as being as complex as you do, but you’ve got more associations with animals than I do. It probably says more about us and our work, than about the piece: you have a lot of associations with animals, because your work involves them, so you kind of focus on that in this piece, whereas I’m more interested in juvenilia and the artifacts of 1990s teenage culture, so that’s maybe what I focus on more. I’m not discrediting your nuanced read, those associations just aren’t as strong for me.

I’ve Been Expecting You is an awesome piece as well; it’s got hints of Edward Gorey, Max Klinger, and Alfred Kubin, with some Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark mixed in. What works, about Schommer’s piece, is that it feels like he knows it’s a little bit silly, to be preoccupied with mortality, without being ironic about it.

Those were definitely two of the stronger pieces in this show, but my favorite were the woodcuts by Tom Huck. They had a sort of “Rat Fink” biker illustration feel, and also reminded me a lot of Ivan Albright. Particularly, the grotesque renderings of women reminded me of Albright’s painting Into The World There Came A Soul Called Ida, which is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. What Huck has that Albright doesn’t seem to is a sense of humor. Albright’s work is grotesque in a moody, serious kind of way; Huck has more of the metalhead’s appreciation for the comic in the tragic, and of the humorousness of the grotesque. The two prints as well as the original plywood plate on display as part of This Is Not A Print Show at Packer-Schopf right now are my favorite works from this week’s openings.

The reason I don’t say that they’re my favorite works up right now is that there are some truly great paintings up at Linda Warren. Peter Drake’s “All The King’s Horses” opened there last week, and the large-scale acrylic paintings of vintage lead toy soldiers are really spectacular. Based on macro photographs of toys which once belonged to Drake’s grandfather (if I recall correctly), the paintings are made using an unusual subtractive technique in which the canvas is painted in several layers of color which are then revealed through sanding to create the image; details are then painted on top. The result is a waxy-smooth surface, brilliant color, and a look that is somewhere between out-of-focus photograph and hyper-saturated photorealist painting.

S: Yeah, I liked his stuff too. And he’s quite a nice guy to boot.

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