Subscribe Today!

Weekly Update – Vox Populi’s December shows–cool


This week’s Weekly has my review of the current shows at Vox Populi. Below is the copy with some pictures. More images at flickr.

Crazy Like a Vox
First Friday has moved out of Old City.

Old City is becoming a hard sell on First Fridays. Chinatown North galleries Vox Populi, Copy, Screening, Space 1026 and (coming soon) the Fabric Workshop and Museum constitute a critical mass of openings that are far more exciting than what’s on display in the old art neighborhood.

Max Lawrence, Vox
Max Lawrence’s electronic installation (detail) from 2006 at Vox Populi.

The coming together of Vox, Copy and Screening at 319A N. 11th St. makes that building the new locus of First Friday calisthenics. What you see doesn’t always please the eye, but it almost always provokes. All three venues have strong programs with cutting-edge video, audio and installation works. And Vox, a nonprofit cooperative, takes its mission to educate seriously. If you can’t make the opening, or if what you see puzzles you, check out the gallery’s monthly curatorial walkthrough.

Max Lawrence(r) and Libby, Vox
Max Lawrence (r) and Libby in his current work-in-progress installation at Vox Populi the night of the opening. Lawrence is also a Space 1026 member and founder of the music/book publishing house Free News.

Vox members Micah Danges, Maximillian Lawrence and Joshua Rickards are on tap this month with strong showings in the video lounge and Fourth Room (for visiting artists). Because a cooperative gallery allows its members to blue sky it, you’ll occasionally see something like Lawrence’s audio-electronic installation which is set up like a low-tech Santa’s workshop. The piece was so “in-progress” at the opening it was hard to imagine, but that’s part of the point: Come see the tinkerer at work in his shop.

Lawrence is a self-taught electronics geek. “Radio Shack was my school,” he says, showing off some small beaded speakers, a keyboard and the circuitry that someday soon will light up and make noise when activated. Lawrence has shown interactive electronica previously, and it’ll be interesting to see what he pulls together.

Josh Rickards, look.jpg
Joshua Rickards painting in his show at Vox.

Joshua Rickards’ portrait paintings of imaginary double-faced or double-headed hippies (and Charles Darwin)—each with the oddest bowling-pin-like nose ever drawn—continue to intrigue. While not exactly mocking in tone, Rickards’ brightly colored cartoon-like works look at other eras with bemusement.

Rickards has three portraits of Charles Darwin in his show. He told us at the opening he's interested in how people say they believe in Darwin (or don't believe in Darwin), like Darwin is a kind of god or religion.
Rickards has three portraits of Charles Darwin in his show. He told us at the opening he’s interested in how people say they believe in Darwin (or don’t believe in Darwin), like Darwin is a kind of god or religion.

Micah Danges’ fake holograms and faux crystals in a fern bed are funny, although beyond humor their meaning is unclear.  (Ed Note: Image removed at request of artist.)

Vox’s Fourth Room exhibits have historically been some of the best in town, and this month’s work—Drift-a-Weight by Stephanie Dotson—doesn’t disappoint. The piece has paintings with home-crafted charms on what might be driftwood, and a shamanistic wall sculpture with spools of what looks like crepe paper (suggesting wheels of fortune or industry) against a backdrop of cut-wood pieces that fan out like Mummers on the wall.

Stephanie Dotson, Vox, 4th room
Stephanie Dotson’s large shamanistic/Mummer-esque piece at Vox’s Fourth Room.

Kara Hearn, Oriana Fox and Lauren Friedman in the video lounge—in a show curated by Rickards—are solo performers who reconfigure movies and television in hilarious non-Hollywood style. The deadpan Hearn takes on movies like Fame and E.T.

Kara Hearn
Kara Hearn in one of her one-woman re-imaginings of a Hollywood movie.

With all the talent at Vox, you could spend your whole evening there. Good beer too.

Micah Danges, Maximillian Lawrence, Joshua Rickards, Stephanie Dotson, Kara Hearn, Oriana Fox & Lauren Friedman
Through Dec. 30. Free. Vox Populi, 319A N. 11th St., third fl. 215.238.1236.