Thursday, November 24, 2011

Serious Shit @ Pale Horse

Pale Horse, interior view.

Pale Horse is a design Studio on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St.Pete owned & run by Chris Parks, who goes by that name as an artist. Once every few months he has a one-evening show, a dazzling suite of works, then it's back to waiting for the next one. Chris's work is graphic, and his hand only touches the mouse that creates it. One thing about his work that stands out besides its creativity and other things, is its consummate attention to craft and detail.

This show was titled "Serious Shit", Showing Pale Horse, Embear and Horsebite.

Pale Horse, "Mushroom Cult and the Holy Grail"

[Please forgive the reflections around the central figure's face] In Pale Horse's "Mushroom Cult and the Holy Grail", we see a triptych, looking almost like the portable altarpieces that Catholic priests carried around in their circuits.

They preached in many poor places where there were empty churches, or no churches at all. They would stop, say Mass, baptize all who had been born, marry those who had shacked up, and bless those that had died since the last time they'd been there. An old-school version of one-stop service.

In the center panel is Pope Ratzinger. He is sporting a third eye. To the viewer's right is the Holy Grail, but look closer: It is a mushroom with its cap inverted and turned out. The panel to the left shows a Trinity of mushrooms, and the center one has the crossmember of the Holy Cross. Note the formal progression left to right: The trio of mushrooms. Note the inescapable similarity between the red cap of that mushroom and the Pope's cape and vestments. He is the embodiment of the mushroom. On the right panel, the form is inverted, becoming a receptacle. This is not by coincidence. I have noticed for some time that the artist is gnowledgeable and fluent in mythologies of many kinds, and in detail. For those who want to learn more about what is going on with this art work I suggest reading this [Link].

Works by Embear

There were several works by Chris' assistant, whose nom de guerre is Embear. These were small (maybe 8x8"?) utra-clean graphic vignettes of childhood signifiers coupled with naughty sexual forms. Look closely: These are incredibly funny, silly and good natured. They thread the edge, but don't go over the line. They also explore the sexual tensions in our lives in a gentle and accepting manner.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Embear at the show. She told me these images stem from illustrations and advertisements in magazines from the 50's & 60's that she would read and draw from at her granmother's house.

One of the things that impressed me about her work is the uncanny chromatic consistency in the series. Ember knows her color, and modulates it as carefully, if not more so, than the content in these images. I look forward to seeing more of her work.

Congratulations to the three artists and to Pale Horse in its Gallery guise, for another brief and shining glimpse of a show.

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