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get it while it’s cheap at Marginal Utility


by Julian Phillips

Rust-ridden, day dream-laden, and dizzying are just a few phrases that can describe the distortions in get it while its cheap at Marginal Utility this month. The exhibit showcases the exploration and experimentation that comes with being a young artist.

Skin Disease
Gahee Park’s “Skin Disease”

Gahee Park, a recent graduate of Tyler School of Art, paints with a fun and fearless approach to color and texture. The abstractness of her forms is only reined in with her declarative titles, as they give light to the paintings’ inspiration. Her point of view is one of satire as she easily lets go of profound conclusions and paints in an imaginative manner. “A shit with a fat fly and a bird” causes a smile to creep across your face when you think of the artist remembering or dreaming up this somewhat irreverent still life. Park’s variety of texture and defined forms keeps your eye moving and your mind playfully trying to fill in the blanks.

A Shit and a Fat Fly
Gahee Park’s “A shit with a fat fly and a bird”

If Park’s painting lets go of pragmatic search, Jim Grilli’s “Metal Shop Floor Sweepings” embraces the process of work and time. Grilli is employed at the University of the Art’s metal studio and uses the waste of a day’s work to make his pieces. After sweeping up debris, mixing it with acrylic gel, and spackling the mixture on canvas, Grilli sets the pieces outside and lets the elements take their toll. The result is a canvas speckled with the orange-red of oxidized metal and a gray scale of dust blending together in a field of layers that becomes more intricate the closer you look. The piece is completed with artist-made objects that sit on the fold of the hanging canvas. The artist-made figures interrupt your eye from wandering about the landscape of rust and debris and remind you that this isn’t simply a metal shop floor.

Metal Shop Floor Sweepings
Jim Grilli’s “Metal Shop Floor Sweepings”

Just as Grilli lets uncertainty into his process, Brittany Papale lets distortion take center stage in her installation, “Whisper down the Lane.” Papale points a video camera at one of Park’s paintings, while three other camcorders follow suit. Each succeeding camera is pointed at the preceding camera’s pop-out screen.

Brittany Papale, Whisper Down the Lane, at Marginal Utility

When the final camera’s feed is shown on an old television stationed nearby, the result is a pixelated distortion of color and shadow. The draw of Papale’s installation is twofold: the individual’s interaction with the piece (the video feed captures gallery viewers as well as the painting) and the somewhat archaic technology’s interpretation of the environment. As suggested by the title, “Whisper down the Lane” talks about how one’s self can change through time and different lenses of media. Papale’s work looks at how we can distort ourselves with our own devices of media and technology.

Matthew Ortega’s video Sky City at Marginal Utility

Matthew Ortega uses technology not to distort but to fragment stories. His narrative video “Sky City” follows a girl who leaves home for the titled “Sky City.” The film achieves its surreal-like quality by piecing together found videos from the internet along with voice-over created by stringing together people telling stories. Ortega’s piece wanders through YouTube and collages videos to a mesmerizing effect. The movement and narration causes you to become lost in the streaming images. The story does not matter against the backdrop of images, with their muted colors and dizzying compositions.

Get it while it’s cheap wants to clue you in to the young talents of emerging artists, and the gallery plans on making it an annual event.  get it while it’s cheap is up through August 27.