Searching for the promised land

Some of us go to the future and outer space; some of us go to Celtic myths and German fairytales. But we’re all searching for some better place that helps us get a grip on the place where we really live–a safe place (top image, Charles Hobbs’ “Under Weathered Hills,” 36″ x 48″, acrylic on board).

And that’s what you can find in “Tiers of Descent,” Charles Hobbs‘ work at Vox Populi. Hobbs take on paradise is paradise lost, the subsurface land of goblins and elves and gnomes. In his paintings and sculptures, he is creating an idealized vision of magical nooks and crannies, forests beneath midnight skies filled with Disney silver stars, floating worlds brimming with lush greenery, multilevel landscapes fed by cascading waters.

Like so many young landscape artists, Hobbs is working with materials that scare me to death–glassy resins for layered paintings that look like jewels, cast fiberglass for wood-like lands of Wynken, Blynken and Nod and wooden shoes that sail the sky, safe caves, and hands holding the landscape safe (left, “Untitled,” materials fabric, fiberglass, paint, wire).

He’s also working with less toxic materials like fabrics and wire and ribbons.

I can see the relationship of his subject matter to Clare Rojas‘ funny little gouache drawings of primeval territory (Rojas had a nice thumbnail review by Roberta Smith in Friday’s New York Times, fyi) and Paul Swenbeck’s references to Germanic legends as well as to the woodblock plates that accompanied my childhood copy of Grimm’s Fairytales. The results are magical and worth a visit to Vox.

Taking fantasy to a different shore, Jillian Mcdonald’s videos at Vox turn fandom into humorous weird-dom. In the series of videos including “Me and Billy Bob,” she inserts herself into movie clips that she slows down and loops. The result suggests a relationship between the actor/object of her desire (she’s got more than one, including my personal fave, Johnny Depp) and herself. The results are a cross between hilarious and unsettling, and raise issues of obsessive love and the culture of celebrity. I found the videos both interesting and creepy and worth a look. The idea is easy to grasp immediately, but the ambiguity the images generate bears some prolonged looking.

Also showing at Vox, “Bad Intentions,” Mauro Zamora‘s acrylics an water colors of nature retaking man-made spaces. The monochrome images have a silk-screen affect of layers and sharp edges. I want these to be more interesting to look at (left, “Trees and Glass, 12″ x 16”).

William Lohre‘s untitled show mostly of untitled models made of paper give as little away as he seems to desire (no titles, no list, no nothing). His White House has artillery and missile launchers on top; his gun rack has a pair of American flags; and his medieval castle/fort is another place that implies embattlement and a desire for safety. I can’t get much further than craftsmanship and ships in bottles–i.e. how does he do it, although he does do it nicely.


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