Art camp

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Roberta’s take on our Friday wanderings seems just about right. The Joy Feasley-Kait Midgett-Paul Swenbeck installation at Temple Gallery, “Summer Friends With New Roses,” had the unlikely affect of the crafts cabin at an Adirondack summer camp. A giant star covered with felt reminded me of the felt humpty-dumpty doll I made when I was a kid at camp, blanket stitched together, the face glued on (top, a Feasley painting of the wilds of her imagination).A bench that opened to reveal side-by-side potty buckets (left), from Swenbeck, added to the
rusticity and the humor. All in all, as an installation, the high-energy exhibit spun with a kind of centripital sense of falling apart at the same time as a centrifugal consistency of mood held the whole thing together.Funny cast ceramic objects looking like a cross between teeth and tubers (designs by Swenbeck)lurked on the hokey, Moderne 1950s shelves, that seemed to define the strata of our world with an above-and-below ground kind of feel, a multi-level universe with lurking life forms. Midgett is the casting expert (06/07/05–see correction on this here for info on Midgett’s contribution to this installation).
The paintings (from Feasley) continued with the camping theme–the great outdoors and also the hints of the universe. My favorite was of an Eskimo (what is the right word here? Native American?) using a yellow measuring tape to measure the infinity of a crystaline sky which may in fact be the crystaline interior of an igloo (left). The paintings walked the line between loopy and kitschy and sublime–just like camp. (There will be an artist’s talk at the gallery June 21 at 6 p.m., and the show runs until July 22.)

On our way to Vox Populi, we stopped at Black Floor Gallery (see Roberta’s post on the art), a two-floor factory loft walk-up. I took a picture of the stairwell, which Roberta said reminded her of the stairs at the old Vox Populi space on 2nd Street. Either way, it was a climb with the charms of roughing it, urban style.

We saw a lot of the same folks at the Voxennial that we saw at Temple Gallery.

The Vox show of more than 30 young artists was curated by artist Virgil Marti (who said to Roberta and me that he made his choices based solely on what he liked–which seems the right way to go about these things, if we’re going by the results), and Elyse Gonzales, assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Artist Joseph Hu hung the show, said Marti. He did a great job.The quality of the work was pretty even, although I did have some favorites. Joe Levickas’ drawing, “Native Americana: Mohawk,” stopped me in my tracks. The mix of fine drawing technique with sharp observations of humanity and society–and fashion–result in a terrific piece that recalls the iconic pictures of Native Americans like Sitting Bull. But Levickas undermines the icon with the leather jacket, the paunch, the hairdo, the earring, the tattoo, etc.
Next to it, Maanik Singh Chauhan’s “Sikh & tired,” oil on panel, is beautifully painted. The title is a little glib, but the image of a Sikh at the bottom edge of a painting that’s mostly wall, on a (prison?) pallet beneath a blanket that looks suspiciously like it came out of the Sears catalog, is quite a different take on difference and exoticism than say the proud, center-focus “Moorish Chieftain” by Charlemont.The show has not a lot of photographs, but this c-print by Eric Bessel, “A Woman Inspecting Faulty Plumbing, Collinsville, CT” offers a hard-edged slice of life. Its daily-grumbles quality and suggestion of barely getting by is offset by the unusual ceiling angle. The surprise of the long gray curly mop suggests this woman’s glory days are not only past but also missed sorely. That’s a lot of information.Marina Borker, who used to make tape drawing installations on walls, showed this terrific acrylic-on-wood painting, “Box,” that merges the pattern of the wood, the portrait, and the box–is this a copying machine?–into something that questions portraiture, painting and materials all in one fell swoop. The wood patterns remind me of Kate Bright’s expressionistic water paintings, but the material is the exact opposite–not slick like Bright but rather rough and elemental. The breaking of the rectangle makes a lot of sense here.“Sunday Crown,” Althea Murphy-Price’s chapeau of synthetic hair, wool and wire is such an amazing thing that I hardly know where to begin. It conflates the fabulous Sunday hats that African-American churchgoers sport with the sculptured forms of African-American hair fashions with satellites of plaited plate shapes. Somehow it also recalls the dignity of top hats and dressing up, something most of us have abandoned for jeans and t-shirts. Our mistake. This hat is a challenge for all of us to rise to.
And finally Andrew Prayzner’s oil on panel “Nymphs and Satyr” invades the suburbs with a moon landing vehicle as a peeping-Tom Hummer Sherman tank. The bikini-clad sex-bomb lasses are giving the tank a scrub in the driveway while a deer/satyr looks on from the lawn. Behind is a ’50s suburban home topped by an outsized satellite dish. This is so full of leering sexuality, bad taste and undermined tranquility that it makes me think Bo Bartlett and Sidney Goodman could learn a thing or two about humor and a light touch from this kid.

There’s lots more worthy work, so put this show on your list. Others in the show are Alex Beroz, Lucas Blalock, Emily Blaskovich, Jodi Boatman, Morgan Craig, Kenneth Deprez, Nick Paparone and James Dillon, Sarah Gamble, Liz Glynn, David Guinn, Anna Hofverberg, David Kasdorf, Nancy Lewis, Jason Gene Loebs, Tricia Lopez, Craig Mateyunas, Mike Mergen, Annette Lee Monnier, Naomi Reis, Jessica Ritter, Ruriko Shimizu, David Slovic, Amy Stevens, Kate Stewart, Corrie Tice and Brian Zegeer.

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