Bang-up starts and finishes

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Roberta gave you a little hint of how we began First Friday, and I’ll give you a somewhat bigger hint of how we ended. In between, there was also lots of great stuff.

The end was the living end–Alex da Corte’s all holds barred installation, “Welcome your Sorrows,” at Black Floor Gallery.

You may have seen bits of it before–the horse with butterflies at the Window on Broad (see post as well as image to the left), the oil iconic portraits of his contemporaries at La Colombe (see post and the icon in the background above), but this time there’s way more stuff, and he’s integrated all of it, combining it with everything else under the sun in a cosmic vision of what is becoming of us.

The focal point of the installation is a pair of table-top armies, “The Darkness Before the Dawn,” with cast wax heads, each figure dressed in a clerical-looking red robe over white vestments. The heads are the beasts of earth, beautifully made, looking oh so individual, made with lots of labor from Nicholas Lenker (see posts here and here) who confided in me that he’s going to be showing more of his own stuffed wild things at Nexus in February. You go, Nick.

Above the armies are enormous stuffed snakes undulating in a tangle, a reminder of Da Corte’s obsession with his lost intestines (really, truly), but a real world reminder of the mess we are in, the snakes above, the clouds below, the scalloped white table cloth a nice cloudy reference. It’s also an altar, a birthday party and a kid’s land of counterpane.

Adding to the party aura are fringed plastic streamers; and glued to the wall, floral prints, which bring to mind Virgil Marti’s decorative obsessions with home decor (Da Corte has worked as an assistant to him) (check out the second picture from the top for some of the streamers and some of the floral wall treatment).

One army is armed with swords, the other with flowers, although the gallery notes state the flower-power army is really an army that fights with words. And he’s so right.

And then there are the suffering human creatures, the saints or young folks hanging on the wall (see top image, with “Owl” in the background). In fact, the Catholic iconography is all over the place, pimps on its Medieval pomp and circumstance. Here we all are with our beliefs, unable to transcend our differences and going straight to hell in a handbasket.

The work is rich visually and conceptually and is worth whatever effort it takes to see it. December Gallery Hours: Sundays, noon – 3 p.m.; the show runs until Dec. 30. Da Corte, a recent UArts grad, has another show coming up in June at Space 1026.

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