Binge and purge

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My PW review about “Creative Consumption” at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery is out now so I’ll tell you a little more about the show here and give you lots more pictures.

“Consumption,” which is very good, is all about appetite. The group show of emerging artists from the West Collection at SEI is replete with images about food, clothing, style, image and excess. (top image detail of Jonathan Callan’s “Wonderland”)

The implication throughout is that too much of any one thing will get you in trouble. Witness Jonathan Callan’s “Wonderland” a group of eighteen stuffed animals trapped in the most ugh-y white goo.

The stuffed and encased innocents — Furby, Daisy Duck, Eeyore and company — sit there like perversions. It’s lust gone bonkers. Whether the lust and excess appetite refers to sexual appetite, appetite for cake or for money, it’s clear these stand-ins for children — or maybe even adults — are sick. (installation shot right shows Jonathan Seliger’s “Grand Girdle(Endless Takeout)”)

Wayne Thibaud’s paintings of cakes and pies for all their scrumptuousness have always seemed less about appetite than about beauty and joie de vive.

In this show, Sharon Core’s color photograph, “Pie Counter,” an homage to the painter, is less sensual than ascetic. In a disturbing way, it evokes a world of joyless feasting — bulemia, not gourmet excess. (image above)

Don’t get me wrong. This is a great show and a lot of the work is fun.

Like Daphne Fitzpatrick’s peanut-butter and banana treasure chest (“Chest” shown right) which, if you’ve ever had to make lunch for a two year old will flood you with memories of little sticky fingers and sandwiches dropped by accident in the sandbox at the playground.

But the overall ambiance here is of sadness and death by culture of excess. (image is Andrew Bush’s Iris print “Man with Renoir”)

Leigh Stevens’ “Model for a Cure” a styrofoam and cake icing concoction under glass spoke to me of wedding banquets and the entire wedding enterprise — which people spend lifetimes paying off. (image below)

Muniz’s “Emerson” (bottom image) and Danica Phelps’ “Brooklyn 1999” (below) take the discussion to different level.

Both artists use the trappings of excess in a more eliptical way, speaking of the changeable nature of appetite and the human cycle of party now, pay later. Phelps is a consumer of her own life, documenting — like an accountant — every jot of expense and every penny of cash flowing in.

And Muniz, a set-up photographer, is a consumer of the throw-away. He often uses litter, lint and ephemera in his works (“Emerson” makes use of confetti and cigarette butts found on the street). Muniz and Phelps are making points about living with and somehow getting on top of the culture.

Instead of beating the drum that excess is bad and moderation is good, these artists use the excess as it’s found (on the street for Muniz; in her life for Phelps) and transform it, somehow insinuating one can ultimately take control and turn things around.

You know, of course, that the West Collection is put together by collector extraordinaire, the Art Addict, Paige West.

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