Monday, January 14, 2013

City of Dreams: Jen Sandwich @ Venture Compound

There is plenty of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism in the world, including the art world. Everybody does it, often with less-than-optimal results, although the practice opens alternative channels to exposure for artists. When I found out Brad Kokay had decided to show his ex-wife's work at Venture Compound (VC) my expectations were lowered. It turned out I was wrong.


Venture Compound interior.

Jen Sandwich flew in from Oakland, CA and promptly caught our version of the flu while she worked putting up her installation. Like many other installations at VC under Brad Kokay, there was a huge number of works on display, almost wallpapering the space, and in this case, a significant part of the floor.

Part of the reason for this is due to the gallery's  philosophy of making art affordable to most, thereby mixing some original works along with great numbers of printed reproductions that are inexpensive and unsigned. This practice has developed into a look of its own. Ms. Sandwich also does zines, and had several on display (I bought a few).
Many of the works on the walls also appear in the zines.

Work by Jen Sandwich

Jen told me she is from Palmetto, FL. and ended up moving to Oakland. A lot of the work shown has to do with being a newcomer in a strange place, of being displaced. The themes of alienation, isolation, couple with a vision of life in Oakland as a dystopia with fluctuations of magical revelations.

On one wall, hanging like laundry, were bus/train tickets. From the ceiling, colored paper chains arced down festively, with a Mexican flavor. Everywhere, drawings of a personal, journalistic nature. Not of spectacular things, but things about what is going on in her life.

There were works directly drawn on the walls and floor of the gallery.

 There were a few magic word drawings tucked in among all the other works. This one seems to be a cautionary tale.

On the floor of the gallery, a mattress with clothing, cigarettes and a liquor bottle strewn about it. Note the marker drawings on the floor.

The personal document aspects of the art in some ways bears resemblances to Facebook posts, but the work goes much further, individually and collectively as a chronicle of the surreal marvels and terrors of being in a new place, obviously with limited resources,  being observant and very sensitive to minutiae, and most of all, about emotional survival.

Congratulations to Jen Sandwich, Brak Kokay, Jesse Vance and the Venture Compound for an interesting show.

--- Luis

This show is up, closing on Feb 7th, and lots of work remains for sale at exceedingly reasonable prices. Treat yourself and visit the Venture Compound gallery, at 2621 Fairfield Ave. Saint Petersburg.

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