Moore College of Art & Design has their front window space graced by the small but bold show All Together Now. Although the entire section displaying work is a three-walled area probably no more than 30 feet wide, there are an astonishing 17 artists with work to view. Some pieces are collaborations, but the sheer variety of content in and cohesiveness of the exhibition is certainly noteworthy.
As a centerpiece for the show, there is a monitor playing the second episode of “Aloof Hills,” the dark and surreal comedy animation by Kara Crombie. This series follows a cast of characters living on a 19th century plantation and their anachronistic, nonsensical, and often offensive antics. The beginning of the nine-minute short leads with a caption that the son of a wealthy farmer fed psilocybin mushrooms to a number of children on the plantation. The video then begins to take a predictably psychedelic adventure into the grass where the character Buttons begins to feel the effects of the drug. On his trip, Buttons encounters a number of strange scenes like skeletons drinking around a campfire, a couple of Greeks discussing Zeus and a cow theft, and stock footage from a number of performers like James Brown and Little Richard. All of the performers are African American musicians. The fact that Bubbles, as a slave child in mid-19th Century America, has such hallucinations is certainly provocative and amusing, but as with any psychedelic excursion, the ultimate meaning is somewhat obscured and hazy.
Below the video, there is the sculpture “Rock” by artists Gabriel Boyce and Preston Link. Static and solid in appearance, its smooth outer curves make it somewhat geological-looking, if not for its colors. The form is composed of flat, parallel sheets of acrylic, which mimic the action of sedimentary rocks from the sea beds of prehistoric oceans. The layers, however, range in color from red and blue to translucent neon green. While the rock formations of earth certainly come in many different shapes and hues, this sculpture is very clearly synthetic. Although this stone took much less time to form than its earth-made cousins, its plastic sheets will last far longer than any of us.
Sarah Kate Burgess presents pleasantly useless contraptions. Her scissors and shears are all constructed from paper and glue, and often include flair and decorative elements in the areas typically designed for functionality – the cutting parts. Not only would these additions hinder properly cutting paper, but it just so happens that these tools are in fact made from paper. One could even say that Burgess’s impractical creations are the perfect visual pun for the term “paper cuts.”
The trophies of Nick Lenker are awards for some of the more mundane achievements in life, such as possessing eyes and hands. They are constructed from clay and mounted to their tops are gold-leafed body parts like a nose or an ear. These appendages aren’t idealized in any way, and are in fact rather crude. Nowhere does it say these are prizes for the best or most beautiful eyes, only for eyes in general. “Congratulations!” the trophies seem to say, “You’re not defective!”
Many other works come together to make All Together Now a packed yet precise show. The work ranges from surreal painting to psychedelic parodies and humorous visual puns, and the works complement each other for a completeness that makes this small space worth a surprisingly long visit. All Together Now was in some ways assembled as a salute to the Barnes Foundation at its new location directly across the Parkway from Moore. All of the divergent works join each other in much the same ways that the disparate elements come together inside the Barnes. The show is on display in the front window of Moore College of Art & Design through July 28.