[We have a guest correspondent for this review]
"Analog Existence", the current show, showcases artists Brad Kokay, Scott Hillis, Alexander Glueck, Reid Jenkins, Ricky Seelbach, Lauren Gentry and Chris and Susan Nadeau.
The term "analog", meaning "similar in appearance or function, though otherwise different" oftens is used to refer to pre-digital technology, but as presented by this group of artists working in a plurality of mediums and styles, "Analog" is an unblinking commentary about an outmoded society.
A first look at Ricky Seelbach and Lauren Gentry's work gives the impression of a medieval church replete with a crucifixion figure flanked by parables and saints on either side, dominated by red, green and gold. The centerpiece, Ricky Seelbach's "Atheist Scarecrow" seems to sacrifice indigenous belief systems for something iconic: The Saviour's face painted on a vinyl record (analog technology) rotating on a turntable at 33 1/3 RPM. The body has disintegrated into a cross of scrap wood, drip paint, and red thread. The hands imprinted on plexiglass are perhaps the handprints of the artist.
To the left of this figure, Lauren Gentry's thoughtful and elaborate collage assemblage pieces present the viewer with some things you wouldn't touch with a pair of tweezers, taking the viewer on a descent to Hell on one hand then hinting at a way out in the other. "Ratatat" parachutes you into a no pest-control Purgatory, while "You can't be yourself unless you eat yourself" is the literal message in "It's Like Pulling Fucking Teeth", an outrageous sermon on the rebirth pains of self-transformation. Smaller works by both artists punctuate the remaining space.
The opposite wall is dominated by Brad Kokay's untitled black and white photocopy montages, large works that draw one into a world as refractory as diamonds and delicately intricate as coral, that borrows fluently from Nature, architecture, and anatomy, weaving them into visions of luminous morphing filigree that in terms of challenging perception and perspective put a film like "Inception" to shame. Using a presumably analog technology (most copiers are now digital) for an unintended use, Kokay effectively invents mesmerizing mindscapes that one can get lost in, blending classic references and symbols into a fascinating and sometimes disturbing universe with its own physics and logic.
Reid Jenkins, like Brad Kokay, had a one-man show a Cafe Bohemia in the past 12 months. His and Scott Hillis' sly, wry, sardonic musings are hung over a mural painted for the show.
Art is everywhere at Cafe Bohemia. Don't overlook the bathrooms!
PS. Cafe Bohemia, a soul-quenching indie cafe and outdoor patio, gallery and hangout, hosts local artists, musicians, poets, comedians, at the Open Mike on Thursday, and movies on Wednesday nights. It consistently delivers healthy and delicious baked goods & sandwiches, along with coffee, beer, interesting patrons, crew led by Alex, and conversation. Cafe Bohemia is the dream child of Bonnie Neal, proprietor, Queen Mum, and artist in her own right.
"Analog Existence opened August 31, and continues through the end of September.