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Redecorating art

Near Berserk, silk screen on fabric by Eva Wylie

Art about decoration is a better proposition than decorative art. It’s about something. And that’s what the show “A Delicate Constitution” at the Art Alliance is about, featuring work by four artists who explore undercurrents in decorative motifs, especially as pertains to the ladies’ heavily decorated purviews of hearth, home and herself.

untitled silk screen on wall, by Wylie

Eva Wylie, a member of Vox Populi Gallery, has silk-screened friezes on the wall of imagery borrowed from popular-culture sources like the internet and magazines. The result looks pretty at first blush, but the subject matter reimagined in its new context, taking on threatening or otherwise subversive overtones. The work includes imagery that is new as well as imagery Wylie has used previously at Vox Populi. The newest edition in the frieze category is a lyrical line of map tidbits. The imagery suggests surveillance amidst the domesticity of a wall decoration. A delicate pink blanket with windows or squares cut out also suggests surveillance in the safety of home and the insecurity of a security blanket (see top image).

Portrait, by Linda Cordell

Lit up porcelain portraits of dogs are part of what Linda Cordell is showing in this exhibit. Cordell uses animals as a way to skewer people and societal roles, and here she includes porcelain portraits of dogs that preen with self-importance, the sort of portrait that belongs in an upper-crust English home of a bygone era. But the dogs are not so sweet and friendly, and the whiteness of the porcelain made me wonder if this was a joke on “bone china.” The pretension of the portraits are further exaggerated by the insanely decorative porcelain frame and matting.

Cordell’s pink blush

“pink blush,” a pink porcelain weasel (I think that’s what it was) posed on a highly decorated plinth/platter, wears a coyly short skirt that would leave nothing to the imagination even if the animal’s legs weren’t posed up in the air. It’s a creature who enjoys being a girl a little too much. She’s a ’50s housewife and a sex kitten serving herself up as a tasty treat.

Black Gothic, by Carson Fox

Carson Fox offers funereal arrays of blanketed silk flowers, birds and butterflies. The funereal qualities of the giant versions of Victorian memorial woven-hair mementos were mercifully undercut by the mordant use of words like Liar and Fraud. The kissing balls seemed like no more than what they were. I most enjoyed the judgmental, graphic display based on flocked wallpaper (above).

Grabtensil, II, by Colleen Toledano

And from Colleen Toledano, clinical-looking instruments of torture and pain parade in lace and pink as pumped-up versions of every girl’s purse accessory. Toledano’s use of pressurized (insulation?)foam as a decorative material stood out.

On My Way Back to You #3

Three photography shows were also at the Art Alliance. On the third floor, a show by Julianna Foster included some magical pieces–a panoramic picture of a distant person in a wide expanse of forest, and also her “Condensation Series,” images of nature transformed by frost- and mist-coated glass.

You and Me, by Kelley Roberts

Showing on the first floor were digital prints by Libby Saylor created by the trick of reversing a camera lens and also photographs by Kelley Roberts, in which cut-out top layers of photographic digital prints reveal layers beneath. I liked the metaphors in Roberts’ pieces that achieved clarity and poignancy, as in her You and Me.