Eternity and memorials in Chinatown last Friday

I toured the Vox building quickly last First Friday roaming the floors, happy to see that even in June the energy was high with lots of interesting work everywhere. Oddly, there seemed to be memorials on every floor. Memorials to art, to art-makers, to…well in many cases it wasn’t clear what was being memorialized. But the boom in nostalgia is big and getting bigger. At this point, we could all benefit from some heat and rage to temper the flood of sadness in the air.

Mia Rosenthal’s mail art project at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Mail art @Tiger Strikes Asteroid: Mia Rosenthal’s handmade ink on paper travel postcards at Tiger Strikes Asteroid stole a lot of hearts and I heard at least one person ask what the price was ($300 — one sold, Rosenthal told me). Installed on three little card racks, the touchable, merchandise-like cards emulate travel postcards mailed to loved ones from places like Hawaii, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Europe, Mexico. Based on real cards that were mailed and saved, each ink on paper piece has a message on the back written by Rosenthal or by a friend or family member. There’s the proverbial “wish you were here” and the “you won’t get this card till after I get home,” sentiments we’ve all penned.  A memorial to the past as well as to the (dying?) postcard industry, the installation is both sweet and comic. It seems nostalgic for a pre-Facebook era where sharing meant sitting on a couch with someone looking at pictures and mementos. And it’s a little mocking of the cash-in on your memoirs idea, although, here, ironically or not, these postcards are memoir-telling product and for sale.

Clint Jukkala’s paintings at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Eye candy alert 1: Also at Tiger this month, the Josef Albers-ian abstract paintings by Clint Jukkala. The large and small works, with nested squares and rectangles in candy colors suggest doors of perception for all sensibilities and palettes.

Theresa Pfarr’s paintings at Grizzly Grizzly

Eye candy alert 2:  At Grizzly Grizzly, it’s Francis Bacon meets John Currin and Dana Schutz in Theresa Pfarr’s abstracted portraits. With their luscious pinks and reds for skin and with faces and bodies that seem half-eaten away, these works are as close to grizzly beauty as it comes.

Lights, camera, action. The end of Copy Gallery, a monumental monument in the middle of the room

The end of Copy: Copy Gallery, we’ll miss you but you had a great 3-year run.  Where do we go now for our fix of radical, odd, funny, serious, shy, aggressive, lame, well-meaning, badly-made, well-made stuff delivered in doses that make you smile? Your last piece — like many other installations we’ve seen here — is a pile of stuff (suggestive of Tatlin’s monument to the 3rd International), with mechanical elements, a note saying good-bye, and incomprehensible words on the wall.  Awesome, funny, nostalgic, silly, sad.

Eternity, spelled out in analog clock hands, at 8 pm Friday night at Progressive Sharing. Photo courtesy of Progressive Sharing.

Eternity @Progressive Sharing: I couldn’t wait for eternity to arrive at 8 pm at Progressive Sharing, but above is a photo by the artists of the 36 clock hands that spell out the word. Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming’s installation was wall to wall people fifteen minutes before eternity. The atmosphere was festive in case you’re wondering. Nobody expected eternity to be anything other than fun.  One viewer I talked with was curious to see just how perfect eternity would be–he was hoping it would be perfect because it would bug him if it wasn’t.

Inflatable sculpture @Progressive Sharing puffed up and deflated at regular intervals like a cheerleader on the sidelines

The inflatable sculpture in the corner helped keep everybody’s spirits high.

Ray Studios door at Vox Populi

Advertising memorials @Vox: Ray Studios Presents, behind the glass studio door at Vox Populi, is an ad hoc, air conditioned space for viewers to take the stage, get in the spotlight and get some canned applause. There’s a video tutorial; and a set of Ray Studios products (which you can take).  The product line implies a world of things for sale (business card, envelope, song prayer, moist towlette). Coffee in the corner and a server offering chilled beverages enhanced the feel that you might be at some kind of funeral, if not at a product demo at a convention.

A viewer taking a bow on the Ray Studios stage

Go for the promotional materials and for your canned applause and 2 seconds in the spotlight.  I may be the only one thinking funeral thoughts in this piece, but go and see for yourself.

I am happy but I am not happy, in the first gallery at Vox

Also memorial-like and advertising-like is the icy installation in the front room, a group venture by Ludwig Fischer, James Johnson, Jacque Liu, Kirk Loubier, and Dustin Sparks. A large wood box-like structure that evokes a car and a casket on a bier made me flash on Richard Prince’s car hoods for a moment.  Like Prince’s work, there’s a deadpan quality merged with admirable craftsmanship.  The whole thing is festooned with balloons and calalilies, with a neon sign above eye level — it may spell out a word, who knows, it’s too high up to see. The piece sports framed photos of itself at the front and rear bottom, seeming to broadcast its availability for your next party, or maybe it’s like the photos of the deceased placed in front of the casket at a funeral.  Is this a memorial to the death of sculpture?  It’s a very nice object, if that’s the case.  Bronze next time.

Meredith Nickie’s installation in the Fourth Room at Vox.

More memorializing in Meredith Nickie’s Fourth Room installation: An antique photo of a scarified aboriginal man dressed in Western garb sits above an altar. Leading up to the altar and taking up most of the room is a maze-like concrete construction on the floor that looks like a model of city infrastructure (subway map perhaps?). There’s a broken (beer) bottle on the concrete as well as a golden barrier like those that appear above open manholes to prevent people from falling in.  The golden stanchion stands out here as a weird reference to the underworld.

Post No Bills installation at Vox

Finally, the Post No Bills installation in the last room at Vox Populi.  I am sorry that my note-taking fell down here.  I don’t know who it’s by and the material on the gallery website does not elucidate.  If you know anything about this piece, add it in the comments, please!

That wraps up my stroll through a few of the shows at 319A N. 11th St.  We’ll have more First Friday posts next week.  More photos at flickr.