Trophy Brothers — Steven and Billy Dufala at Fleisher-Ollman

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The timing couldn’t have been better.  The day after the Dufala brothers won the West Prize grand prize (cash purse of $25,000) on Feb. 26, their first solo show at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery opened (Feb 27).  So of course what did the brothers do after winning the West prize?  They went back to their studios to finish up work for the show, of course!

Billy and Steven Dufala, Trophy, 2009. electrical conduit, junction boxes. 66 x 39'9 x 7"
Billy and Steven Dufala, Trophy, 2009. electrical conduit, junction boxes. 66 x 39’9 x 7″

This is what Steven Dufala told me when I ran into him last Friday.  They were thrilled to win the West Prize, which they really didn’t expect, he said.  And they were very happy with their show at the gallery.  But even more they were glad to be done with all the hoopla. They made their mom very happy, he said, and now they’re ready to go back to life as normal.

Trophy, detail. Look at that woven conduit. Made for the show, its installation took a while, said Gallerist John Ollman, marveling at the labor involved.
Trophy, detail. Look at that woven conduit. Made for the show, its installation took a while, said Gallerist John Ollman, marveling at the labor involved.

The show at F-O is full of the brothers’ down-home labor-intensive pieces, some made with found objects, some highly worked and highly crafted.   As usual, the works are filled with humor and social critique.  Here they’re poking fun at our wasteful society and our lust for the big win.  And also as usual, they are all about the fabulousness of simple objects — a sneaker, a screwdriver, a gardening tool.

Special Air Mission 2800, 2009. rubber, vinyl, shoelaces. 6 x 4 x 32"
Special Air Mission 2800, 2009. rubber, vinyl, shoelaces. 6 x 4 x 32″

There’s obsessive drawings with thousands of hand-drawn leaves or water bottles making up a larger image… a hand-made wood and steel Pickaxe… handmade garden Shears.  And, making a dazzling appearance here, the fabricated-from-scratch Dumpster Coffin, a piece Libby and I saw at Main Line Center for the Arts in 2005 in a show curated by Alex Baker.

Topiary Spray Bottle, 2009. watercolor. 17x12 7/8"
Topiary Spray Bottle, 2009. watercolor. 17×12 7/8″

And whether it is voodoo timing or not, the biggest piece in the show —  the wall-spanning “Trophy” — is a perfect encapsulation of the wonders and burdens of winning.   The art deco-esque word piece made of electrical conduit tubing is a billboard-ready logo for a Type A super cult, all of whose members are the president, numero uno and top dog.

Dumpster Coffin, detail. 2002. satin, foam, steel. 53 x 67 1/2 x 36"
Dumpster Coffin, detail. 2002. satin, foam, steel. 53 x 67 1/2 x 36″

The show is marvelous, so get over there before Mar. 28 when it closes.  More photos at flickr.

Tags

fleisher-ollman gallery, steven and billy blaise dufala

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