[A cheerful group show, featuring playfully evocative artworks, helps Lauren beat back spring shower blues. — the artblog editors]
First Friday was cold, raining, and dismal. The atmosphere inside of New Boon(e) Gallery was a stark contrast to the weather outside. Morale Booster, New Boon(e)’s most recent member show, displayed artwork from 13 different artists. Themes varied from nudes and animals to landscapes and love notes.
Curators Zac Beaver and Lina Pearson created a show lacking a common theme, but the eclectic display of media made for an exciting and refreshing viewing experience. The New Boon(e) collective members’ works demand attention, and ask that the viewer make up their own story to accompany each work. Beaver and Pearson have created a show that requires the viewer to come with an excited imagination and open mind.
Find a story that fits
Zac Beaver played the role of both curator and artist in Morale Booster. His three embroidered paintings are stacked salon-style at eye level. “Cheyney,” the top-left work, displays the bust of a turkey in deep browns and warm neutrals, surrounded by a worn wooden frame and trapped behind glass. To the right is “Ridley,” a fox with crazy eyes and bright-orange fur. Beneath “Ridley” and “Cheyney” sits “Mirmont”–a beautiful landscape (of sorts) that is an entanglement of sticks, tentacles, vines, leaves, and cigarettes. Taken together, the triad gives the viewer the impression of animals in the forest–is the fox chasing the turkey through the woods? Is Cheyney the turkey meant to be Dick Cheney, and Ridley the fox is chasing him through a forest of his demise? Could Dick Cheney be trying to occupy Turkey, and a sly fox named Ridley is trying to stop him? Is the landscape our government or the world as we know it? Zac Beaver may be the only one who really knows, but he allows the viewer to create his or her own story from the work.
Similar to Beaver’s animalistic fairytale is the “Off-White Beast”–a collaborative sculpture by Josh Beaver, Maggie Stewart, and Zac Beaver. “Off-White Beast” is a sculpture of a “beast” (possibly a deranged white goat); the head is hung on the wall to mimic heads mounted on the wall of a hunting lodge, with a body of sorts installed beneath. The sculpture is a collected mass of cardboard, string, and paint. The beast’s head is mounted on a dark wooden oval, his dopey eyes bloodshot-red; small red bows festoon his mane. “Off-White Beast” gives the feeling of Disney animatronics gone wrong in the best way possible. The sculpture sits in the spotlight of New Boon(e) in homage to its participation in February’s performance piece, also titled “Off-White Beast” (see artblog’s coverage of that performance here).
Straying from the theme of beasts and forest wildlife, Anne Pagana’s tender installation, aptly titled “Devotion Piece,” displays two white plaster, floor-based sculptures just barely facing one another. One sculpture is close to the floor: a broken column of sorts, filled with a beautiful and wild growth, reminiscent of something one would find in an abandoned Victorian garden. Wildflowers and dark green moss quietly sprout from the sculpture; it’s a seemingly quiet and beautiful reminder of neglect and absence. Nearby stands the second piece of the installation: a taller Corinthian-style column angled at the top with a note lying atop it. The note, scribbled simply on a basic sheet of paper with a red kiss mark in the center of the page, says “Images We Kiss”. Pagana’s piece matches its title almost too perfectly; it fills the viewer with the sentimentality that comes from viewing work straight from another person’s heart.
Morale Booster also displayed works by Christina Lower, David Meyers, Kevin Dalton, Lindsey Maiorano, and Peter and Lina Pearson. With this show, New Boon(e) successfully offers something for every type of viewer. Morale Booster did for me exactly what the title suggested–I left New Boon(e) with a sunnier disposition that made the storm outside seem like a few raindrops. I look forward to my next visit to New Boon(e) and am eager to see what they come up with next.
Morale Booster is on view at New Boon(e) April 4- April 31, 2014.