No such thing as all used up

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Lucky for me, when Roberta commented on “Used: New Work From Old Things” at the Painted Bride (see prior post), she mentioned only a couple of the artists.

This is a great little group show (curator, our contributor Shelley Spector, who shows her own art from reused materials at Sande Webster Gallery).

I have to agree with Roberta that the biggest surprise was Alex Querel’s phonebook portraits. And for sheer visual pleasure, I’d choose Richard Metz’s jackets as well.

But a couple more–Margo Mensing’s giant images created with circles of pattern punched out from security envelopes and collaged onto masonite and Jerry Goodman’s reworked porn magazine pages–made me look extra hard and long.

Mensing had two nice piece, “Eiffel Towers” and “Mt. Rushmore,” but “Rushmore” spoke to me especially loudly after I had spent the morning listening to Condoleeza Rice testify about national security. Here we’ve got Mt. Rushmore, the republic represented by its greatest leaders, carved into permanence and prominence. But the security envelopes and national security at the moment seem flimsy at best, the rock layers unstable and erroding. What if some crazy person starts to carve “W” into a mountain side? Talk about errosion.

Mensing also manages to show off an astounding number of security envelope patterns.

Goodman’s series is called “Confession of a Seventy-Five Year Old Porn Addict.” I can’t quite figure how he does these, other than to say he covers over pages from porn magazines, ultimately with a black coating, and then scratches (shown right, “Untitled”). The transformation gives elegance to a kindergarten craft technique and gives new meaning to graphic sex. It’s also a nice reminder that 75-year-olds still have a life.

Some of Laura Hutton’s dolls looked better in this show than they ever have before. The hairdos were especially witty, with curly hair from rubber bands, and in this image, dreads from ball-bearing chains.

And while we’re working on women’s self-images, Teresa Jaynes’ “Rapunzel,” with an enormous, braided rope tied around a tree-trunk stamped with spells from antiquity (I got that from her notes; I had trouble reading the words, and could only decode some Greek names like Pandora) is transformed from a princess saved by a prince into a mythic goddess with superpowers.

As for the rope, Jaynes mentions in her notes that she learned that the “age of the knot” was similar in significance to the Iron Age, but that perishable rope artifacts limited the scholarship. I must admit I was thrilled with this little fact.

Also in this show were some likable assemblages (left, “Clim B. Spiker”) by Brian Marshall. The more he transformed his basic materials, the more mysterious they became.

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