The Analog Stupa–Bonnie Brenda Scott and Michael Gerkovich at Padlock Gallery


Bonnie Brenda Scott and Michael Gerkovich, installation detail, The Analog Stupa at Padlock Gallery.

I keep going to friends’ houses where they’ve cleared out their old tvs, their old stereo systems, and moved on to the next generation.

Hey, we all have done this to some degree. I have files on old floppies that are lost for eternity–the floppies and the software that created them obsolescent. Every year, it’s not so much that we’re losing neurons; it’s that we’re not expanding enough gigabytes of memory for our creaky old systems.

Bonnie Brenda Scott, Hands Triptych, 2008, top (I think), ink, acrylic, watercolor on paper, and Flesh Diamond Yellow (I think) and I don’t know what the hands and mouths are at the lower left and right.

How about my old vinyl records? Do I really have to go out and buy a CD copy of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album? And once I buy it, must I really upload it so it’s on my iPod?

I’m really not anti technology. But I think that Bonnie Brenda Scott and her friend Michael Gerkovich (the husband-wife designation was an inside joke, she told us, and Gerkovich, an old UArts friend, has recently returned to Philly from farming) are onto something in their Analog Stupa exhibit at Padlock Gallery (the show runs to Jan. 2).

The exhibit is an exuberant installation of drawings, prints, paintings and stuff, all tied together with string. It reminds me of the sort of stuff Space 1026 puts out when they’re installing their most energetic group efforts. (I suppose it’s no coincidence that Scott has joined up with that group, recently). The installation has a mesmerizing quality, a kind of one-room giant tanka, or a mandala, with visual byways and paths to some creator-consciousness or inner peace or something.

The installation mixes indvidual pieces with a rollicking decoration of the space. The piece in the middle is Michael Gerkovich’s Scorched Earth Catalog, acrylic on canvas, 2008. I guess what’s below it is his Tribute to Weekend (2008), acrylic watercolor and ink on paper. On the left top is his I Think I’m Ready to Understand (2008), acrylic on canvas). There’s some of the string covering the front windows. It also weaves across the ceiling and ends up spelling out a message on another wall.

But this is only two people! Gerkovich, who’s the eco-worrier in the pairing, plays with text more than Scott, and has a normal, human amount of work here. Scott, however, who also incorporates some text in her work, is more about losing our humanity in our quest for better entertainment. The video-maker (no videos here) is worried about the power of her craft. And she is a crazy producer–a mad printer and drawer–so most of the art work in the installation is from Scott. I did a count. Of the 95 pieces of work on the price list (bargains each and every one of them), 22 are by Gerkovich, 72 by Scott, and 1 is a collaboration, not to mention the whole installation is a collaboration.

Bonnie Brenda Scott really does know how to smile, but not for pictures, I guess. On the right, pyramids are acrylic on wood.

The central collaborative piece is a stupa, which serves as a focal point visually and in terms of meaning. How appropriate that the old technology buried in the pile is in the fireplace!!!

Plus there are little bits of el-cheapo souvenirs of the show–like a zine and some of the prayer-flag cloths.


I don’t know that you can say the entire installation makes some kind of intellectual sense, even after reading the artists’ statement, but I can say that I loved exploring the work there. There’s a mix of politics and Buddhism (like hand-printed Thai prayer flags) and just wonderful mark-making and imagery.

Of course there’s a flip side. So much art work!!! Engineers have to make new products. Artists have to make new art. Creativity is creativity, and Frankenstein’s monster is a good thing and a bad thing!!!

Bonnie Brenda Scott, I'm not sure which piece this is, but it's one of many tigers in the exhibit.
Bonnie Brenda Scott, I’m not sure which piece this is, but it’s one of many tigers in the exhibit.

The show manages to walk a crazy line between sheer optimism and sheer pessimism, building something beautiful from the detritus of our cultural imperative to create more and more trash.

Scott is a Nexus member. Look for more work from her–a solo show at Nexus, opening Feb. 12.

Gerkovich, like Scott a UArts BFA from 2006, has just returned to Philadelphia after doing some farming. He will be showing work at the Satellite Cafe in West Philly, in February.

Padlock is one of those places you have to make an appointment for, but contact Scott through Space 1026 (link on her name at the top) to get in.


bonnie brenda scott, michael gerkovich, padlock gallery



Sign up to receive Artblog’s weekly newsletter and updates sent directly to your inbox.

Subscribe Today!