Buddy-hood in two shows at Jolie Laide


by Dennis D’Alesandro

Two shows at Jolie Laide this month highlight the creative dynamics between long-time art school friends.

Heavy Metal Sunburn (in the back space) features the paintings of Cranbrook grads Japeth Mennes and Jeffrey Scott Mathews, both of whose works attempt a futuristic sci-fi feel by employing a process-heavy minimalist aesthetic.

Japeth Mennes “Untitled (sun bleach)” 2010-2011 24” x 30” Acrylic and UV Varnish on Linen

The colorful works of Japeth Mennes are a strange amalgamation of painting and photography involving a photo-emulsion process, with the image projected onto the surface like a screenprint using UV varnish and then adding more traditional painting materials, including acrylic and enamal paints. These paintings suggest zombie hybrids of Andy Wharhol’s silkscreen works and Kenneth Noland’s geometric abstractions. The paintings gave me the feeling that I was looking at Photoshop works that, although mostly flat, still commanded a gripping sense of weightiness and tactility that you’d never get from a photographic printout.

Jeffrey Mathews, Untitled (lifetones), acrylic polymer, marker bleed, and bismuth on linen, 2010

Mathews’ smallish paintings reach the same tactile playfulness and goals by going the opposite direction. Where Mennes’s paintings come alive by allowing very thin applications to melt down into their finished surfaces, Mathews’s paintings are additive, building outward with drips and pours of liquid metal and allowing the drops to grow up on the painting like a shiny, otherworldly fungus.

Jeffrey Mathews, Untitled (Scapeland), acrylic polymer, marker bleed, and bismuth on linen, 2010

Mathews’s backrounds tend to be neatly geometric and pattern-like, but his metalic droppings soil the surfaces like ugly accidents, almost mocking the minimal compositions on which they’re splattered.

Jacob Feige and William Kofmehl, Memories Last a Lifetime, 2011

Memories Last A Lifetime, whose title borrows from Pennsylvania’s state slogan, is a performance/installation by rivals-turned-buddies Jacob Feige and William Earl Kofmehl III.  The collaboration intertwines friendship, a roadtrip across the state, and objects found and crafted, along with dramatized anecdotes from past interactions between the two men. The piece takes up the majority of Jolie Laide’s gallery this month.  Feige and Kofmehl first met during an altercation over the placement of a sculpture during their senior thesis show at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Using that moment as a spark, they have created a multi-layered dramatic presentation that takes a normal everyday drive from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and charges it with monumental metaphorical meaning that seems to tie together every important moment that has ever happened between the artists. Using tongue-in-cheek humor and an I Love You Man-type look at the sticky reality of man-friends who can’t surrender their boyish bonds for the new frontiers of adulthood, the show both makes a mockery of and homage to modern male friendship. The argument the two graduating students had while setting up their senior show becomes the most important thing that has ever happened to them, laying the foundation for every creative action since that fateful day.

Jacob Feige and William Kofmehl, Memories Last a Lifetime, 2011

This show has it all, from old email correspondence, to giant paper mache birds, hand-painted “My Buddy” shirts, and a yellow 1975 Triumph convertible.

These shows will be on view at Jolie Laide until August 27.


buddies, friends, heavy metal sunburn, jacob feige, japeth mennes, jeffrey scott matthews, jolie laide, memories last a lifetime, william earl kofmehl iii



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