This week’s Weekly has my review of the great big drawings by Annette Monnier and Phillip Adams at Copy and Tiger. Below is my copy with some pictures.
The town is full of great exhibits this month but don’t miss two ambitious narrative drawings with tales for the times. They will make you ponder, chuckle and shudder. Annette Monnier’s wall-spanning ink drawing of City Hall at Copy Gallery and Phillip Adams’ charcoal mural of President Obama caught in a tidal wave at Tiger Strikes Asteroid are marvels that reward your trip up the dark creaky stairs at 319 N. 11th.
Monnier’s delicate and whimsical piece shows our city’s seat of power as if taken over by bicyclists, birds, The Claymobile, some hippie vans, cats and young people (including a lineup of ten Kiera Knightly figures). Black balloons float up to the sky and a spaceship seems to be landing near a rainbow that’s not far from a tornado. City Hall is the biggest single character in this elegant, Where’s Waldo-like drawing, but the building is mute, stately and flat as a pancake, a mere backdrop for the swirl of activities around it.
Monnier, an artist/curator and co-founder of Copy Gallery (and its predecessor Black Floor) is an avid bike rider who also works at the Clay Studio. She’s put those aspects of her life in the drawing along with her cat-, bird- and movie star-fashion-fantasies, claiming the city for herself and friends and asking you to re-imagine the place with the energy and foibles of youth. Monnier’s detailed and fantastical drawing calls to mind the works of Florine Stettheimer, the early American modernist, scenester and friend of Marcel Duchamp.
Adams’ drawing installation, made directly on the gallery’s four walls (it will be erased for next month’s show), immerses the viewer in a dark sea with ten-foot-high waves curling above the head and just about to crash. It’s a suffocating place to be – both literally and metaphorically. The one human element in this ominous drawing is our Hawaii-raised president, who is swimming in the trough before the wave, his head above water like a pea in the giant sea. Surely, he will be going under in a cataclysm of unstoppable proportions.
This muscular drawing reminds me of Robert Longo’s wall-spanning charcoal drawings of a surfer’s ideal waves. But Adams’ waves are threatening and the work is not exalting, and with his tiny Obama, the drawing calls to mind Breughel the Elder and his wee humans in landscapes of sublime beauty.
The visions Adams and Monnier express the anxiety and hopes of many young artists—and many viewers as well. Each in its own way is a perfect drawing for the times.