Is this any way to haunt a show?

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Click picture to see it bigger. Installation shot of Anthony Campuzano’s exhibit at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. Words in the vitrine piece say “Is this any way to haunt a house? You bet it is!”

We’re surrounded by words. Some come in from sources like radio, television, the internet, signs and labels. These words either reverberate or they don’t. They’re either useful or simply background to the day. But the ones that reverberate, the words and phrases that get picked up and used — the jokes, the stories, the funny signage, the bon mots, the slang — that’s the ever-weaving fabric of who you are.

Language grows as you grow and it stretches to fit all sizes and shapes. And language is something you share. Anthony Campuzano‘s been sharing his word art for some time. Now until March 4 the artist has his first solo exhibit at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. Campuzano’s a word magician and his art is twice obsessed: It’s fueled by love of language and fueled by love of a good story. In piece after piece, Campuzano’s words tell stories. Looking at his art is like sitting around a campfire and listening to a raconteur spin a yarn. Sometimes the yarn’s a shaggy dog story and sometimes the yarn pops like a firecracker and lingers in the air.

Most word art — indeed most words — have multiple meanings and allow a rich subtext for the reader/viewer. Campuzano’s words are sometimes the headlines that make you hungry to read the story. And sometimes, as in his 12-panel opus, “The last words of Lee Harvey Oswald, compiled by Mae Brussell” they are the story itself. In all cases the words are symbols and broadcast with the urgency of a frisky puppy. They WILL be heard.

One thing more. The physicality of this work elevates it beyond a lot of word art. Whether it’s the choice of colors or the intensely worked background behind the words, these are objects whose hand-made charms keep coming. This is far from automatic writing. It’s planned and conceived and executed with care. Campuzano’s on a quest and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes him next time.

We’ve written a lot about the young artist’s work. Here’s Libby’s recent post on this show. And see the artist’s index for more. For photos of the show see my flickr set. And by the way, when I stopped in last week I found the large show all but sold out.

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