Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eve-n-Odd Gallery and The Letterpress Truck

Jennifer Kosharek and her T-shirt show at Even-n-Odd

Jennifer Kosharek's Eve-n-Odd gallery is at 645 Central Ave, in the Crislip Arcade. She is best known for her mail art and association with contemporary Fluxus artists. Recently, she had a t-shirt show. I missed the opening, and a lot of them were sold, but what remained was impressive. Two stood out, the one in the photo just to the viewer's left of Jennifer Kosharek, by Jennifer Chandley and one by Coralette Damme. There were also works by Michelle Hill, Jennifer Shull, Psynner, Bibiana Padilla, Adam S, Rob Stephens, and Saori.

The gallery has been open for over a year. She carries a lot of  work by local artists, including Calan Ree. I took home one of her small heart bowls. Jennifer mentioned she had coordinated a stop on the Letterpress Truck's journey, and it was going to be dropping by a little later. I went on to the Morean (there are enough places open on Central on Sundays to make a visit worthwhile), took in the work being gathered for the "Blooms" show, which will be reviewed here soon, and returned to Eve-n-Odd to find the Letterpress truck parked outside.
Movable Type Truck

The truck is from Movable Type [Link], a 1982 Chevrolet Step Van, AKA "The Sweetheart of the Road" that has been converted into a long-range rolling print shop. Kyle Durrie hails from Portland, Oregon, where she is the proprietor of Power and Light Press [Link]. She customized the truck's interior for this journey, putting in paneling, cabinetry, a small bed in the back, counters and more. She is using a press from 1873 (!) on a daily basis, sometimes holding workshops on finding and using these machines.

The map inside the truck

Durrie is on a long road trip. She told me about twenty-one thousand miles. There are red pins all over that map of the USA. She's been on the road for some time, and will be traveling through April. It began on June 11, 2011.

Kyle Durrie in her truck, with her press and a print

On the right you can see Ms. Durrie in her truck. On the left is her press. She is holding a print from it, the kind that visitors to the Press got to print on their own and take home for a very reasonable price. Note the customized interior of the truck, done by Kyle.

The Process

On the right you can see the process taking place, as Kyle explained to the new printers what and how to do it. People had a great time with this, and many expressed interest in obtaining a press for their own work.

Satisfied, smiling customers after the printing experience.

Congratulations to Kyle Durrie and Jennifer Kosharek for a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SoLow, Clint Thomas @ Cafe Bohemia

Cafe Bohemia interior, "SoLow" exhibit.

Clint Thomas has been photographing for decades. In this show we see mostly racing motorcycles, some abstracts, carnival rides, and women. He goes far back enough to have made the transition from film to digital, one that he embraced and ran with. Digital manipulation is one of Thomas' strong points. The original capture is a departure point for his imagination.

Clint Thomas, "Queen of Spades"

Some of the images of women in this show look vintage, others contemporary. This can be discerned from the hairstyles, fashions and photographic style, something Thomas, who is very open and transparent about his work, verifies. Some are in conventional modeling-type poses, indicating formality between the photographer and subject. Some of the women are very specific, as in "Queen of Spades". Others have been abstracted towards the generic, though personal attitude and body language still comes through.

Clint Thomas, "Sand and Sols"

In "Sand and Sols" we have a trio of near-abstracted figures in a near-vacant subtle background. In reality, they were girls at a wedding posing on the beach. In this photograph, their faces are somewhat abstracted, the dresses mostly whited out, which allows their poses/body language to emerge. "Sand and Sols", which I assume is an allusion to the parasols, looks nostalgic. Here the photographer makes a contemporary image look vintage.

Clint Thomas, "Rain"

"Rain" is the name of the performer in this picture. I happened to be present when this exposure was made (with a pocket point-and-shoot). The degree of digital manipulation here is considerable, yet a certain amount of the feel of the original scene is retained. It's a peak moment, photographically speaking, and a spectacular print.

Clint Thomas, "Ride Envy"

There are other pictures of motorcycles and machines (fair rides) in this show, but with this one, the artist's background in motorcycles is made clear. This is a Modernist (very similar to Strand's explorations of the Akeley Camera) paean to classic bike tech. It is an insider's picture as much of an illustration as it is formally evocative. Beautifully done.

The two works on the right, the upper being "Moon Manq", and the lower "Good Vibrations" present an interesting juxtaposition between what appear to be pictures of two women, except "Manq" is a storefront mannekin. The stylization and emphasis on composition  in it is prominent. In "Good Vibrations" a spectacularly expressive moment of a woman gleefully laughing, we have something almost diametrically opposite, yet connected, to the photo above. Ecstatic, organic, mercurial expression versus formal, frozen but very studied and careful composition. The ideal and the real, something Thomas explores at length in his pictures.

Congratulations to Clint Thomas and Matt Neal of Cafe Bohemia for a memorable show.

Cafe Bohemia is one of Art Taco's favorite hangouts. It is an indie cafe located at 937 Central Ave., St Pete. They make excellent coffees, sandwiches (the Bohemian being my favorite) and the best falafels in the area.

---- Luis

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gil De Meza @ HCC Ybor Gallery

View of Gil De Meza's show.

Gil De Meza is a retired Professor Emeritus from University of Tampa. He has mentored some of our best artists and gallery owners during his career.  At a gallery talk I had the pleasure of speaking with Gil at length. He remarked that he grew up just a few blocks from where the show was held at the HCC Performing Arts Building Art Gallery, run by Carolyn Kossar.

Gil De Meza, "Requiem for the Boy with the Green Hair"

"The Boy with the Green Hair" is not just part of the title of this work, it is also that of a 1948 movie. The tale of a war orphan whose hair turns green, and who realizes his predicament and that of the world, which is about to go to war again. He is torn between shaving his hair, being silent and leading a normal life, or warning people about the horrors of war. If you look carefully, you see horizontal lines from edge to edge of the work. There's five lines and four spaces. Sound familiar? Just like the stave lines of musical notation. Gil told me music is where a big part of his inspiration comes from. Gil plays the trumpet. This work goes back to his childhood, to the days before WWII. De Meza's work are nothing if not richly textured at many levels. There's a speaker near the center just above the bottom edge, which the artist told me is a reference to the many air raid drill sirens that were tested routinely.

[Remember the nuclear attack siren drills? Crawling under your desk to try to survive a 30 megaton nuke?]  

Side view of the painting above

On the left is a side view of Requiem for the Boy with the Green Hair. Note the textures, door stop, and many coat hooks, and the aforementioned speaker at the bottom. Why? These are things that are found in the interior of a house, in private spaces. Although the painting surface is open, these are a reminder that we are looking at an interior space. These things also stop doors, imposing limits, and let us hang our coats, our covering, assumed identity.

On the right is a close-up of the upper edge of the work. There's this longish bundle, made of canvas tied up with string. Canvas like that found in a tent. Another allusion to war. The rivets could be interpreted as bullet holes, De Meza told me.

Then there's this hook on the side of the frame, from which dangles a bloody-looking bundle, looking like a dead fetus. The death of innocence? Peace? Childhood? This reminds me a lot of a sculpture by Michael Massaro titled Sinew of Indifference [Link]. Also, see the lighter color of the paint cutting in from the edge? That's the military olive drab of the day. This dark mixed-media work is part anti-war  protest, and a reminiscence of the awakening of a boy who would later become an artist.

On the left is "A Conversation with the Imposter, Remington Knollwood", by De Meza. The artist has no problem going above and beyond the surface of the paint and its frame edges.On the right is a close-up of the same work. There's repeating dualities in this work. The formal tensions between them serve to energize the work. While a lot of De Meza's work looks very abstract, many of them have some back-narratives.

Gil De Meza, "Pretty Woman".

Gil casually mentioned that in "Pretty Woman", the hex heads on the bolts are like nipples.

On the left is a close-up of the work above, so its textures and subtle colors can be appreciated. On the right is a close-up of the egg that lies on the upper edge of the frame. It could be taken as a symbol of fertility, and more, but the artist says he got a good deal on several of them.

There were many other strong works in this show, which is now closed, but I hope the above help to give a hint of the depth and breadth of De Meza's mixed media works. Congratulations to Gil De Meza, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, and to Carolyn Kossar for a very good show.

--- Luis

Friday, January 27, 2012

Agua Luces Project by Tracy Dear gets green light from Tampa CIty Council

Chicago bridge lit by Tracy Dear

After six years, thanks to the pressure from the media focus on Tampa during the RNC convention and TECO agreeing to shoulder the power cost, Chicago-based  Dear Productions, run by Lighting Designer Tracy Dear, has been approved by Tampa City Council to light four bridges across the Hillsborough River. It is called "Agua Luces", which is bad Spanish for "water lights". You can see Dear's prior projects here [Link].

$30k has been approved for the design work. The actual installation of the LEDs will cost much more.  Below is a picture of another of the eleven Chicago bridges Dear lit. It is easy to see how this will help give the impression to national media that Tampa is a progressive, arts-oriented city -- for the minimum investment.