Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Art & Soul Duet: Stuart Andrews and Josh Sullivan @ History Museum.

Gallery View

The St Petersburg History Museum [Link] has been exhibiting local artists with regularity in their "Artists of St Pete" series. Currently, it's a two-man show with Josh Sullivan and Stuart Andrews. They were the first artists ever reviewed on Art Taco in August of 2010, at a show at the Globe Cafe.

Stuart Andrews, "Paul and Lydia"
What I wrote back then is still relevant now: "Stuart Andrews used to do comics, and is now a portraitist. His work [Link] is portraiture of friends and commissions "being human". It's a graphic, yet realistic, Post-Pop style with a touch of American Regionalism. Casual, intimate and immediate, with slightly amplified/stylized gestures and large blocks of color."

Stuart's imagery is, in part, about the fabric of human relationships made visible, almost palpable.This was the first painting under the nom d' art "Stuart The Painter".

Josh Sullivan, "Mysterious Old Woman"

  Earlier, I wrote about Josh: " Josh Sullivan [Link] is a jovial, upbeat character, with a smile like a young Teddy Roosevelt. An incredibly prolific artist, who churns out many zines, drawings, and endless characters in angst-inducing, humorous and familiar absurd situations, projections of our real lives. The characters that populate his comics are frustrated, but their spirits are indomitable, no matter what the Dystopia deals out to them, or they are dystopiary. Josh's paintings are more graphic, influenced by movies and his comics."

"Mysterious Old Woman" is a mixed media piece involving many photographic prints with the painting of a red-headed woman holding a soda (?) can with a straw in it in her left hand. This work, and others in this show, stem from a cache of found photographs that were in a car trunk.

Stuart Andrews, Untitled.

 Some AT readers may remember this acrylic on fiberboard painting from the ArtOn Central waterfront show, where it was still a work in progress. Here the relationship is with the viewer. The gestures in Stuart's paintings are important. He stylizes his figures, but they remain human.

Josh Sullivan, "Faces and Places"

In ""Faces and Places", Josh Sullivan presents us with around two dozen faces enclosed in rectangles. Look closely, and you'll see this is like a typology [Link] of human emotional gestures. The lines linking them closely resemble a flow chart.

Stuart Andrews, "Jesse (Middle of Nowhere III)"

This portrait of a boy, "Jesse", who is depicted sitting down and smiling. Note the cultural artifacts in the image, and how they're arranged in layers. Directly behind the boy, an older pick-up truck. Behind that on the left, what looks like a barn. Then to the right a dead-looking tree, and behind it a house (the chimney is visible at its left edge). Jesse was in a rural setting and enjoying it.

Josh Sullivan, "It's Getting Late"

First, no, that's not a sun in the picture, but a reflection (!). Twelve (coincidence, or a reference to the months of the year?) dead-looking trees in a barren land, denuded limbs tortuously reaching upwards in vain. This painting came across as a caveat regarding an ecological apocalypse, the trees  a Greek chorus chanting a warning.

Stuart Andrews, "Middle of Nowhere I"

An almost hyperreal image of a woman (who looks like the "Mystery Woman" in Josh's painting of the same name). This picture elicits a narrative. Did the woman's car break down and the cop come to her rescue? The desert background, and the lack of a number atop the car tells us something about the location and time.

Josh Sullivan, "Electric Dinosaur"

Josh reconciles opposites often in his art. Mountanous monsters are afraid of the dark, dinosaurs like this electric one dance their way benignly across the graffiti inspired background, hardly looking like top predators.

  Below is "Complete Robot". The robots look more human than most people do. This one with his arms outstretched, looking a little crucified, has a wound mainspring for a heart.

Josh Sullivan, "Complete Robot"

Congratulations to Josh and Stu, and to the History Museum of St Pete for a fine show. The Museum is at 335 2nd Ave. NE, on the left as you head towards the Pier. The show will be up into late October.

--- Luis

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