Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Show Up and Throw Up" @ James Oleson Gallery

We are creatures of habit, settling into routines, and repeating them unquestioningly. It is the same in the arts. In spite of the emphasis on creativity, things are done rigidly in the manner of a ritual whose meaning has been forgotten long ago.

The James Oleson Gallery decided to challenge three assumptions with this show, according to their press release: The idea of curation, and that of juried entries. They did this by having any artists  show up and put their art on the walls of the gallery. Last, this negated the idea of "working from a list" of artists.

James Oleson Gallery, Show up and Throw up show.

 Part of this stems from the gallery and its principal's concerns regarding elitism in art. This show was a reaction to it. I was there while people were signing in and hanging up work. The "sequencing" was random save for the aggressive/competitive drive to hang things at eye level, which was judged by the artists to be the superior spot(s).

Hanging work.

The work ran the gamut of the younger end of the Saint Pete artists. Lots of skulls, and the usual narcissistic melodramas, with notable exceptions.

Tara Radosevich, "Good Girl"

Tara Radosevich's animal avatars are sometimes cloaked in bright fabric. "Good Girl" embodies a cloaked canid with its mouth showing as a kind of vagina edentata. Then there's the tensed-up paw and claws peeping out below the cloak.

Kirstin Eschenroeder, "Whole Parts"
Kristin Eschenroeder's "Whole Parts" is an image of a man, with hands from fans/idolaters reaching out, as a forest of cameras surround him. Celebrity? Famer? The Grecian-looking columns in the background give this the aura of a Roman Victory Parade. The subject of all this attention looks shocked by it.

Emily Miller, "Pink Grrl"

[First, please forgive the intrusion of the painting in the lower 25% of the frame.]

Emily Miller is one to watch. Her background is in sculpture, and she has carried that sense of volume, texture and space into her painting. She is focused presently on current pop culture, including the instruments of social media. Here, a youthful feminine figure in her underwear wades in water inside a cube, holding a flower in her right hand. She has a pink (glitter) halo, like a Catholic Saint, and her blue hair cascades aqueously right into the water.

In the end, this show did not prove the conventions it challenged to be flawed or meaningless. The random sequencing has some really interesting riffs that would have probably never happened in the usual overthought process. It showed that a lot of interesting work will show up without being juried, and that a list excludes many interesting new artists. What "Show up and Throw up" proved was that experimentation and taking chances are wonderful and there should be more of it. The very act of removing the curatorial auteurship from putting on a show was refreshingly daring. Kudos to James Oleson and his crew: John Taormina, Sebastian Coolidge, Aureilius Artist, and many others.

--- Luis

No comments:

Post a Comment