Sunday, May 04, 2008

Reflections On Local Art Chaos. Part 2.

Without a doubt I was more impressed with the quality of the art this weekend than I was last week. It started well with an impromptu stop at the Zombo Gallery for a look at Ian Green's new work. Michael and Julie (the gallery owners) are dedicated to presenting good 'lowbrow' art at affordable prices. Green is not known for selling cheap- he puts a tremendous amount of time and craftsmanship into everything he does, and he rightfully expects to be compensated appropriately for it. They were able to strike a very nice balance with a mix of tags ranging from 60 to several thousand dollars. There was truly something for everyone. Green's dystopian aesthetic was on full display, with Gandhi fighting asteroids, and baby-binky vitual reality implants. If you didn't get a chance to see it, be sure to make the closing on May 23rd.

Unblurred had a number of pleasant surprises for the discriminating viewer. Metamorphose continued a recent string of excellent shows with the paintings of Joana Ricou. In 2000 Ricou moved from Portugal to attend CMU. The 'Burgh is exceedingly lucky to have her. I first became aware of her work (which she describes as the intersection of biology and art) when she had a show with Stacy Gross at ModernFormations last March. She has been exhibiting lush depictions of the nude female form soaked in brash temptation. Her fiery color palette and sinewy brush-strokes collaborate in a body of work that is both reminiscent of the classical tradition and altogether fuckin' hot.

Across the street at ImageBox was another unexpected series of treasures. Brant Dykstra has been focusing on making rap music since his graduation from art school several years ago. He had actually taken an indefinite leave from painting until quite recently. His re-emergence caught more than a few eyes at his first solo last Friday. There is something vaguely 'day of the dead' about his imagery. His figures populate barren landscapes of muted color. They are stark, but exceptionally contemporary. He was present and accessible at his reception, and was gracious in representing his work. It seems that painting is in his blood. His older sibling Joren showed at the sadly-defunct Digging Pitt in February of 2007, as part of the excellent "Visual Grammar" exhibition of abstraction. I would be very surprised if we didn't see a lot more of both Dykstras in the future.

My post-Unblurred plans were stymied by the Brillo Box's decsion to hold an invitation-only party for the elite after the Carnegie International, and so I found myself with some other local artist schmucks down at Remedy. My sources tell me that things got a bit wild late night at the Brillo, despite the imposing velvet ropes guarding the esteemed entranceway. I guess those San Francisco graffiti guys can get a little out-of-hand. Any short-termed feelings of displacement melted away as I resumed my customary back-booth station on Saturday night. It was surprisingly slow- I guess everyone was at the fancy Piet Mondrian party at the Warhol.

The party for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts Biennial was relatively sedate. But I have to give props to co-curators George Davis and Laura Domencic for their shared vision- the entire exhibition was well-planned and engaging. I particularly enjoyed an installation by Adam Welch- a full library of 'books' painted powder blue, periodically jarred from the shelves by a mysteriously ambulatory power-drill vibration. Also outstanding were a series of ornate paper cutouts of mayhem by Bovey Lee, a battlefield landscape featuring a Sasquatch Army by personal favorite Jen Cooney, and an otherworldly topographical installation at Pittsburgh Filmmakers by Keith Tassick. There were elements of fancy and fantasy to a lot of the pieces that added a factor of delight notably missing from most group efforts. I was hard-pressed to find anything disappointing at the show, and will refrain from identifying the exceptions. You have to see it for yourself.

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