Vox and Copy: Bring on the Spectacle!

Musings on the offerings from Vox, Screening and Copy as seen last First Friday.

Nick Paparone's performance/installation at Vox Populi
Bag lady pouring Mountain Dew but not for you in Nick Paparone’s installation at Vox.

Winner of the P.T. Barnum Best Show on Earth award this month is Nick Paparone. His two bag-headed Daisy Mae’s pouring Mountain Dew into trash cans First Friday in his Reynolds Wrapped installation is the anti-spectacle spectacle that’s hard not to love. Not only does this piece,  Bacchanal-Tootsie Roll Whip, call to mind frat parties and youthful hooliganism in general but the hooliganism of our crassly over-consumptive culture as well. Oh, and then there’s some art content. Surely the ladies are fountains of a sort. (Think Duchamp among other art references.) A platform in the middle of the room — festooned with bikini tops — is the showcase for framed abstract finger paintings in what could be called fecal colors. And, this dubious ship of state is topped by a gilded icon: Brancusi’s Kiss–an emblem of old world art, craftsmanship, love — and the Philadelphia Museum of Art which owns the original.


Nick Paparone's performance/installation at Vox Populi
Framed abstract art on the platform

This critique of the times reminds me of Mike Kelley‘s giant high school fair at Gagosian in 2005 “Mike Kelley: Day Is Done”, only unlike Kelley’s B-movie funhouse which fetishized teen culture which it was in love with, Paparone’s teen aesthetic is lighter, brighter and more conflicted.

Nick Paparone's performance/installation at Vox Populi
Brancusi’s Kiss on top of Paparone’s platform.


Jamie Dillon with his installation at Vox Populi
Jamie Dillon with part of his installation at Vox

Jamie Dillon‘s installation A Better Day is Coming is a poignant little affair between two sculptural objects, one of which sings to the other while the other burns its candle down. This is Dillon’s first solo with Vox although singly and as compadre of Paparone’s in their joint venture Print Liberation and co-founder of Black Floor and Copy Gallery, his art has been in shows around town for several years.

Jamie Dillon at Vox Populi
The other half of the love duet created by Dillon in his installation at Vox


Dillon gutted an Ikea dresser then installed some hot car stereo equipment he bought on the Gowanus Bridge, he told me. The penny-encrusted dresser–on wheels, so there’s the possibility of movement–blurts out a low, loud, mournful tone periodically, addressed to the short stack of black and white whose red candle (in the shape of a brain) burns bright in the opposite corner of the room. Dillon said he thought of the black and white striped piece as a kind of panda bear. And when I asked what it was made of he said the top was the remnants of Everest, a piece he and Paparone made a few years back. The rest is plaster and paint I believe.

It’s a sweet piece about yearning and loss and while the sound of the dresser blurting its love was lost at the opening (I did hear it once or twice) in an empty gallery its impact would be big.

Jonathan Prull at Vox Populi
Jonathan Prull at Vox Populi

Jonathan Prull takes a departure from his previous material (cardboard) and here makes an enormous sculptural installation reminiscent of a giant Tinker Toy assembly. But while the piece, titled we carry what we seek, might be meant to suggest childhood games its affect is that of a playground bully — don’t come too close or the metal with its sharp pointy edges will surely do you harm. This is an interesting move for Prull and I look forward to what comes next.

Clint Takeda at Vox Populi
Clint Takeda’s wood dog critter in the Vox alumni show

In the back room, the Vox alumni show, One Gray Grass in the Ball Field, was full of great stuff to look at, which is what Paul Swenbeck, one of the organizers, said it was supposed to be — a great group of stuff to look at.

Paul Swenbeck at Vox Populi
Paul Swenbeck at the Vox alumni show. On the wall, right, is a Tristin Lowe drawing — a self portrait– that the artist did in his teens, Swenbeck said

Paul Swenbeck's work at Vox alumni show
Swenbeck’s ceramic frogs from the alumni show.

Others in the show include Joy Feasley, Shannon Bowser, David Wickland, Jen Macdonald, Kait Midgett, Nick Muellner and Richard Harrod.

At Screening, Michael Bel Smith
Michael Bell-Smith:On the Grid

Michael Bell-Smith‘s digital animation made of the simplest of “materials,” + and – signs, seems to be a computer imagining of a city seen from different angles based on footage shot from a train. I sat through a couple loops of the piece lulled by its quiet affect and beauty. The sky behind the urban forms emulates a 24-hour period changing colors from pale blue to bright yellow, orange and indigo. This is the artist’s first gallery exhibit in Philadelphia although he told me at the opening that he’d been living in town until recently when he moved to New York. There is something forlorn and elegaic in the piece and I’d like to see more from the artist.

Beth Brandon Bear Rug>
Beth Brandon’s Bear Rug, a drawing on paper

We stopped at Copy Gallery too early to see the Carrie Collins costumes but we loved Beth Brandon‘s Bear Rug under glass, a lovely drawing presented as a precious trophy.

The walls in the space are painted a gold and green almost Tartan plaid with a gold alcove painted on one wall festooned with two tiger head candles. The stage was set but sadly we couldn’t stay for the action. But Copy’s Annette Monnier, who curated the show,  sent us some photos, a couple taken by Jeffrey Stockbridge and a few by Monnier herself. The tiger motif in the Collins costumes is greeeeaaaat as Tony the Tiger would say.

Model in a Carrie Collins costume at Copy Gallery. Photo by Jeffrey Stockbridge.
Model in a Carrie Collins costume at Copy Gallery. Photo by Jeffrey Stockbridge.

Carrie Collins costume, Copy Gallery
Annette Monnier, right, with a model in a Carrie Collins costume. Copy Gallery. Photo by Jeffrey Stockbridge.

Beth Brandon Copy Gallery
Brandon in a wolf hat at the opening.

More photos at flickr.