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Weekly Update – Baroque Vox and 3-Questions


This week’s Weekly has my review of the Vox Populi members’ show with Max Lawrence, Amy Adams and Anne Schaefer. Also, in sketches, I tried something different this week, a 3-question Q&A with artist Josh Moseley. The Q&A will be an occasional regular sketch feature. Do you like it? Here’s the link to the art page with the review and sketches. And here’s Libby’s post on the Vox show.

Go for Baroque

Bombarded by complex information in a world that increasingly demands multitasking, many young artists respond with art that’s ornate, complex and layered. This 21st-century baroque sensibility-one that seems to study as well as celebrate excess-is much in evidence at Vox Populi this month in solo shows by members Amy Adams, Maximillian Lawrence and Anne Schaefer.

(top image is Lawrence and Samantha Simpson multitasking at Vox’s front desk — information central in the Vox realm. Lawrence was making a cd of images for me. Some of the images in this post are at my flickr site where you can see them bigger.)

It’s a second solo for Adams and Lawrence, and both have moved away somewhat from what they were doing previously. For Adams, who works abstractly, the move is more dramatic. Formerly, her colorful paintings made with stencils and airbrush typically showed two fields of interest, one bubbly and energetic, the other static. There was tension between the two elements and the implication of conflict on a microcosmic level. (image is detail of work by Adams)

Adams’ new works lose the conflict and embrace instead a woven reality that implies merger and coexistence. By losing the tension, Adams has pushed her work into pretty. But it was conflict that made it unique, and I hope she can work her way forward into that edgier space.

Last time, Lawrence showed resin paintings of his friends that were colorful, layered and full of love. He also included a computer installation with drawings of faces randomly created from a database of hand-drawn eyes, ears, noses, etc. The energy and vision were youthful, unedited and human-focused, as you’d expect from an artist who’s also a member of Space 1026. (more images at his other website)

(image right and below are one of two characters that appear in Lawrence’s new animation. This is “musculator.”)


Here the artist continues his human-focused imagery and computer randomization programs. But the vision is one of social commentary, with ideas about self-image and what Lawrence calls “postapocalyptic archaeology.”

(image right shows a skull-like sun rising over a flooded area with armed soldiers on patrol. The echoes of Katrina are so fresh they’re shocking although the piece was made before the storm and has no connection with it.)

There’s always been a restless intelligence behind Lawrence’s art. He seems in perpetual personal upgrade just like the computer programs he’s so expert in. This version, call it Lawrence v. 2.5, is one I’d like to see him stay with for a while. A combination of computer animation, projected imagery, interactivity and music, it’s Koyaanisqatsi anime.

The imagery is a stew of Arcimboldo-like faces, Indonesian shadow puppets and flexing body builders. It’s beautiful and weird, and the music has a mesmerizing prettiness that’s perfect for being too perfect. The disjuncture between dreamy musical riffs (which you can add to by playing the keys yourself) and the parade of cartoon imagery reminded me of TV news streams with that crawl of words on the bottom that have nothing to do with the images.

Schaefer‘s first solo exhibit with Vox presents an artist with a sophisticated vision and mature aesthetic. Schaefer is now off to Cranbrook Academy to get her M.F.A., and let’s hope the schooling enhances what she’s already got going. These carefully arranged strips and scraps of what looks like wallpaper, in places covered by paint, evoke suffocating Victorian interiors and family secrets. I’ve never seen the color brown used so effectively, and I look forward to what comes next. (image is detail of work by Schaefer)

Anne Schaefer, Maximillian Lawrence, Amy Adams
Through Oct. 2. Vox Populi, 1315 Cherry St., fourth fl. 215.568.5513.


Three Questions for Joshua Mosley, 2005 Pew Fellow and Penn School of Design Faculty

Can you tell me about your new computer animation having to do with intelligent design?

“I’m modeling clay characters that are descendants of monsters that have nearly evolved to what appear to be normal animals. I’ve also been looking very closely at a large Indian beetle, and reading about how others have explained miraculous designs in nature. The clay models are then 3-D scanned into the computer and animated digitally with all of the clay tool marks remaining. I’m composing the music for this project, and this is a first for me.” (image is film still from Moseley’s “A Vue” which has to do with a statue of George Washington Carver)

Did you go anywhere fun this summer and see any art?

“I went to the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany, and saw four full days of short films. Most memorable was an exquisitely choreographed film Goodbye to Love by a Malaysian filmmaker, James Lee. I also went to Pixar, Disney, Imageworks and Warner Bros. to visit friends and students, to see the working conditions and to learn more about each company’s production pipeline. Pixar was the most interesting because I’ve always thought their stories reflected their development as a company as I’d expect an artist’s work to be somewhat autobiographical.”

(image is 4 stills from Moseley’s “Beyreuth.”)

Was Rodney Graham, whose show is now at the ICA, an influence on you?

“His work has been very inspiring. The tree photos and camera obscura models first struck me in 1995 at the ‘About Place’ show at the Art Institute of Chicago. These pieces didn’t start to really unfold in my mind for a couple of years. Since then I’ve been watching how he’s carried these ideas about loops in perception and time into his lyrics and films. I like the slower photographic works, although his film and video works are very well produced, are just as complex and will continue to set a higher cinematic standard for the work we see in galleries.”