Folklore smooths the 1026 edge

Lost Mermaid, the Gnarwal Ship, and Angry Inking, by Jeremy Fish, acrylic on defective skate decks

Space 1026, known for its edgy, chaotic and exuberant exhibitions, this time seems totally in control. The walls are white. The art is numbered. And there’s a list whereon you can see the name of each piece, the materials, and the price.

This revolutionary approach may be in part due to the artist, Jeremy Fish, who seems like an orderly kind of guy. This San Francisco-based artist has a solo exhibit, “Folklore,” full of more than 35 charming, storybook images, beautifully painted and drawn–a meeting of comic books, video and D&D medieval styles, and Persian miniatures.

Amidst all this work, with Max Lawrence on the turntables nearby, the artist was standing around on opening night looking a lot like his self-portraits embedded in some of the work. Nearby was his mom, Niki. Fish grew up in Albany, and he mentioned his mom lived in Saratoga Springs, where I went to college. So she and I had a chat about what a nice town it was and about the Tang Art Center on campus.

The Dress, acrylic on wood, also some collage

The juice in the work, besides its beauty and craftsmanship (great paint quality, great drawing, beautiful colors, nice sense of design, terrific use of pattern) is the imaginative merging of unexpected pairs–the artistic equivalent of portmanteau words–a fish fin becomes a foot and a skull becomes a dress.

She Gardens, and He Gardens, gouache, latex on canvas

Fish’s painted images are gouache or acrylic; the drawings are ink on paper. The show also includes some prints. The supports for the work include skateboard decks and plastic architectural elements that came from a found bed headboard.

Mermaiden, one of the screen prints

There’s a fresh, childlike quality here, as well as a savvy commercial professionalism. Plus some counterculture gothic touchstones–like lots of skulls–help to keep the sweetness at bay. Skulls or a bunch of helium-filled, inflated breasts or whatever, I still wouldn’t hesitate to put this stuff in a child’s room. It reminds me of Grimm’s Fairytales and Mother Goose, with the mix of the scary world and the fairy world intermingled.