Grotesques of First Friday August

friedmanpastel95NYT critic Michael Kimmelman‘s been to Santa Fe to test the Robert Storr-curated Site Santa Fe exhibit. He declares it ok in his Friday report on the show. (to read, sign in as username: lrrfartblog, password: artblog)

Check out the Site Santa Fe website, too. Click on Biennial 2004 and you get a nice grotesque Flash graphic that reminded me somehow of the cob webs in Miss Havisham’s dining room.

Apparently Storr is interested in the grotesque as something kind of American and kind of “now.” We’ve been talking about the grotesque for a while here on artblog (Dario Robleto, the Project Room show Scarab, the recent Mutter Museum Big Nothing show). I think the “movement,” if such it can be called, is due to millenial naval gazing. We’d rather linger over our hangnails than move forward. Who can blame us? The world’s a mess at the moment and where are the big thinkers and bold leaders? It’s too scary out there, so we’ll make some demon images and titter. Boo. I’m not knocking it, just find it unsurprising.

Anyway, snapping back to attention, according to Kimmelman, Storr says the grotesque is imbued with both ecstasy and morbidity and points to Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe as American literary examples of artists who dipped into the exclamatory or the deathly dark. (top image is Tom Friedman‘s “Untitled” a pastel drawing from 1995 that’s in Site Santa Fe)

beadejabberwockyNew Mexico’s pretty far away and while we’d all love to go, Philadelphia’s got plenty of grotesquerie in town right now. Last night I ran into some at Rosenfeld Gallery in the form of Carrie Ann Beade‘s oil on copper paintings.

The parodies of stock imagery from old master paintings and books are small, well painted — and if not surprising then striking. (image left is “Jabberwocky,” oil on copper)


Mexican day of the dead imagery is of course also grotesque. And while it’s not American, it’s Chicano which is Mexican-American, and right now there’s skulls and devils galore up in Taller Puertorriqueno’s “Visiones from Postmodern Aztlan.” My favorite is Alex Rubio‘s “El Diablito,” 1998, a screenprint from Coronado Studios. (shown right) For more see my post below and Libby’s post.

And for more devil action, don’t miss “Scarab,” folks. It’s still up at Project Room and they’re having a Friday the 13th closing event with the panel discussion from hell.

More on the show in my post and Minna Dubin’s post.