Counterfeit Commonality

1. Wonder and Awe

2. Doubt

3. Forsakenness; retreat to self.

Karl Jaspers talked at me about this.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I've not been to Space Gallery a lot in my years here. It's a very nice space for art nestled in the cultural district Downtown. They've showcased a generously wide selection of disciplines.

I think the show there now is the best I've seen so far. It's a collection of works contributed by artists whom are also gallery workers in the city. Those people you see there, they're usually making their own work, too.

And it's good. A happy proportion of it. Quite good.

I went twice; once for the first opening and then again this past first Friday for the Gallery Crawl. It still felt good. Andy Warhol's weight bench still felt pretty boring. Scorched rugs no longer meant a good indication of STD, they mean pretty clever and nicely executed portrait shots.

It was a good mix of media and ideas. But all of them pretty neat and clean. Where's the mess? It was spilling out of Chris Beauregard's sound piece. It was one of the best in the show by far. It was also on two mixed media pieces neatly framed on a wall.

But mess does not equal success. I can't believe I just said that. Strike that. Mess does not guarantee a competent mess. But the collages and the sounds were competent messes. They both invited chance and metamorphoses into the doors and then cut off their fat and flung it out the window. To the street with you, excess. Like dressing a kill. Why keep useless shit? I guess that's how I relate to works like this. No plan. Just a primer.

But some of the other pieces I liked I could never stomach actually doing. Nicole Rosato's cut maps are nice. It seems like a schtick at first because they're portrait busts of figures created by carefully cutting the tangled lines of colored road maps. All veiny. But they're small and lovely and seem like they talk about place and identity. What good is something if it doesn't teeter on the edge of failure? Especially corny failure. She presents well and it doesn't feel like she has settled on this manifestation of her ideas.

Around the partition was a piece that also went with a geographic feel. It was a construction set low on top of which was a sculpted material made of some sort of muslin or light cloth shaped into the terrain of the land into which Pittsburgh's three rivers gouge and converge. But all clean white with twinkling lights and glowing as though the industrial revolution never touched us. Or maybe as though the landscape were bleached and bruised instead of blackened.

There was filler, too.

There was a figurative painting I liked, too. Kate somebody. It looked like something that would crash and burn like the fodder we painters have to slog through in undergrad and for years after as we learn to push paint around looking for that homunculus or graphic or other. But this one was strong. Kind of like a meal at which Munch and Soutine were talking and then some obscure Neo Expressionist from 1983 listening in had too much wine and got courage and tried to touch their boy parts. How else should we talk about the cycle?

There's also a swing with twenty five or thirty feet of chain arcing up in suspended motion in the corner. It's old and weathered-looking which can be a death mark but not always. I admit I fell for it because it reminds me of Richard Hughes. I fell for him at the last Carnegie International. Simple things in front of us that somehow, when arranged, confront us with the entanglement of the human condition, our impending rot, unsettling weirdness.

The swing didn't get that far, but it's a nice form. It vacillates in that wimpy way lacking the impeccable craftsmanship of Richard Hughes but also not willing to (forgive me) swing to the other side and be dangerous mess. It looks fun to goers and therefore gets attention but the most shallow kind most of the time unfortunately.

Beauregard's amplifier on a pedestal with distorting filters fed through it was presented as it was. No fussing really. And what for? Those gutteral sounds churning out of it were like blood-soaked velvet. Who fucking cares about the vessel? The attention to the presentational vessel is evident in it's understatement. It helps to make the piece matter; it's oozing quality just needed a framework off of which to reverberate.

Those collage pieces are great. So lovingly eviscerated over and over again. They had a rare candor to them. Remember that shit? No one does. It comes up sometimes but it's called mysteriousness or naivety by most and sincerity by others. I miss it too often.

Other things that night were alright. It was the first time in a while I'd had a big bloody burger from Tessarro's. I've been sliding back organically toward a more vegetarian diet. But I don't care about eschewing meat. I like the way blood tastes but it's heavy in the stomach anymore.

Plus Rob and Jen are good company. Jen is amiable and easy to please and Rob is grouchy. I love them both.

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