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Weekly Update (1) – Tristin Lowe’s socks at Fleisher-Ollman


This week’s Weekly includes my review of Tristin Lowe’s solo show Socked Up at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. Below is the copy with some pictures. And here’s the link to the art page. More photos at my flickr set.

Sock on This
Tristin Lowe’s carnival of hosiery, intestines and wrinkled genitalia rocks.

Installation shot of Tristin Lowe’s exhibit Socked Up at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery

In “Socked Up”—Tristin Lowe’s Waiting for Godot-esque romp about life, death and socks at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery—the artist presents twisted intestines, aging sex organs, drooping bones, matted hair, drippy noses and skulls galore.

Tristin Lowe
Tristin Lowe. Jean-Gnome. I saw this piece first in a group exhibit at 1801 Howard St in 2005. See post. I thought it was great then. I think it’s great now. It’s a great piece.

Lowe, an accoladed local artist and Pew fellow whose work is included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a grand, Geppetto-like toy maker who brings to life a cast of forlorn boys with dirty socks, hairy bodies and occasionally—not in this exhibit but in the group show “Cathartic Disgust Gestalt” at Project Room in 2001—bodies that are out of control and leaking from all orifices. (see my Weekly review of that show.)

Drooping sock/penis head figure.

Lowe’s sculptural objects are of course him and not him. They achieve a kind of universality that archetypal works depend on for viewer empathy. And that’s a good thing, because a show full of references to the worst the body has to offer would be difficult to view if you didn’t understand his body is your body. It’s all about you too.


Pieces like Satyr (a pair of faux-fur pants) and Reddy (a little faux-fur fox) bring the whole enterprise into the realm of the Brothers Grimm with children in the woods and animals who either eat or help them.

Tristin Lowe
Satyr (background)

Like West Coast artist Paul McCarthy, who makes work that transgresses by showing (fake) blood and oozing yuck, Lowe is all about mortality. His inflatable blue Jean-Gnome, six pairs of blue jean pants stitched together in a Cirque du Soleil-style tumble of torsos, suggests a crazy yoga position as well as the desire to defy gravity—and mortality. Bodies change and that tumbling genome won’t give us immortality, but DNA will give us just about everything our parents had (including a big nose and a propensity toward obesity and alcoholism).

Tristin Lowe
One of Lowe’s dysfunctional chairs.

This show of more than 50 works includes a couple of Lowe’s dysfunctional folding chair sculptures—stand-ins for the dysfunctional body—and many drawings and 2-D works.

Untitled drawing. I see a sock monkey face in it. What do you see?

The drawings, some abstract, are less forlorn and seem to document a different type of visual thinking. Best was the octopus with the bedroom eyes and the monkey-sock-puppet face, both of which tap into the show’s Jungian undertow.

Skull drawing on threadbare sock.

The skull motif—in drawings and cut fabric wall hangings—replays the teen goth obsession in a forlorn context. The best skull drawing is on the bottom of a stuffed, threadbare tube sock sticking out from the wall like an erect penis.

If you’re occasionally at war with your body, this is your show.

Tristin Lowe: “Socked Up”
Through Nov. 4. Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, 1616 Walnut St., suite 100. 215.545.7562