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Wandering and wondering at Vox Populi–Paparone, Abrams and Wylie


IMG_5732 Nick Paparone
Nick Paparone, The Wonder Wander, torchiere lamp, polystyrene, alumnium foil, paint, motor

The cheerful boyishness that permeates Nick Paparone‘s work is always a little slippery. He is one of the trio of Vox Populi artists up for the month of May, plus a couple of guest artists, and he almost steals the show with one of his pieces–The Wonder Wander.

The piece, a sort of portable den, consists of a globe spinning slowly on the axis of a lamp pole. The gizmo on the wall that turns the globe is a small motor that spins a small rubber cylinder. The cylinder, pressed against the globe, uses friction to push it around. Tin foil land oceans, gumby-green land masses, the gizmo, the diminutive rug beneath, all diminish the grandeur of the globe as a respresentative of our Planet Earth in the universe.

The Wonder Wander is a sort of metaphor, a slice of the Big Guy’s den domain, his American Dream, turned into a cartoon of powerlessness and yearning.

IMG_5731 Nick Paparone
Nick Paparone’s defaced Cindy Crawford poster, 400 Horsepower #2, airbrushed, laminated Cindy Crawford poster, poster hangers

Behind Nick’s entire installation, Cliffs, Bluffs and Steamy Lowlands…, is this persona. He’s the same dopey guy who at a younger age, drools over a well-oiled Cindy Crawford in a swimsuit with just two inches more fabric than a monokini, who at a still earlier time in his life lets one rip after drinking his coke or his beer, and who dreams of superhero exploits as a kid. Paparone’s installation is a sort of growth chart for the American frat-boy turned president.

Nick Paparone, King Kiosk, comic books, tree branches, chaser lights, fabric, wood, homocote board

Although I admired the kiosk, which is beautifully put together, I sort of didn’t get it. The comics are inaccessible and overwhelming, with their superhero role model beyond reach yet overwhelmingly promoted–covered with plastic and draped in chains. The tree branches are like antlers and why twinkling lights? I don’t know. I did get a laugh out of the Cindy Crawford, however, the proverbial graffiti moustache as Micky Mouse ear orange slices and banana bunches.

IMG_5738 Nick Paparone
Nick paparone, Asshole, coffee can, aluminum foil, change, tape, paper, rope, wood

The fat, ballooned out coke can with a slot for coins gave me a laugh for its deadpan silliness–a rec room prank. This is Paparone’s first solo outing as a Vox member.

IMG_5741 Stefan Abrams
Stefan Abrams has three actors read posts from an online bulletin board. Some of the posts are also framed on the walls.

Stefan Abrams‘ Laugh out Loud is a response to online bulletin board discussions of the Superbowl commercials. I thought it was a great idea that was too restrained in its execution. The idea of obsession over nonsense gets lost in the limited selection of posts on the walls and in the videos, in which actors recite some of the posts. The real online discussion is excessive, and excess is what’s called for. (Abrams’ recent photographs at Stratasphere Gallery of people at the car show are far more layered and interesting).

IMG_5747 Eva Wylie
Eva Wylie, Roaring Tulips

Eva Wylie‘s Roaring Tulips, a room-sized installation of a parachute of cut-out floral images backed with velvet cast wonderful shadows. The inverted parachute took over the space, but the content of the flowers and the parachute seemed arbitrary. All I get out of this is, Make decoration, not war.

by Carl Baratta
by Carl Baratta

The show is rounded out with paintings by guest artist Carl Baratta, which I enjoyed for their mysterious mix of narrative and symbolism and abstract mark-making. Jack Sloss is in the Video Lounge.