Monday, May 28, 2012

48 hrs: Boom, pow, Surprise!! @ The Emerald Bar

Emerald Bar interior, front to back view.

Derek Donnelly owns and runs Saint Paint [Link] Arts and Apparel [Link]. The "Boom, pow, Surprise!!" art show at the Emerald Bar was put together on short notice, less than two days. Unsurprisingly, many of the artists are the same that Donnelly has on the walls of his gallery. The show is well-curated considering the brief amount of time involved. The Emerald has classic bar lighting, a bit on the dim side, meant to imaginarily enhance the patron's looks. This gives the artwork a look reminiscent of cave wall art. Viewers walk right up to the works to get a better idea of what they're looking at. While doing that, one makes friends with the patrons sitting at tables that one is leaning over. If one goes during the shift change from the day to the night crew the odds of pressing strange flesh are reduced. Be careful not to step on the everpresent small dog while taking the show in. In the picture above left, you can see that the show is on one wall, in a linear fashion on the right. The closest image is by Clint Thomas, a somewhat abstracted figure of a woman, broken up into pseudo-Cubist squares.
Derek Donnelly, "My Rabbit"
  There were paintings by Derek Donnelly in the show, some his celeb portraits. The one on the right, titled "My Rabbit", of a child clutching a rabbit to her lower torso and warding off prospective rabbit robbers with a well-aimed revolver loaded with hollow points. She looks and is dressed like Natalie Portman in the movie "The Professional". The rabbit could be interpreted as her childhood, among other things. In this show, representations of girls/women range widely. From the abstracted to glamorized, and there's more than a few who seem at war (in a cultural sense). This is a theme I am seeing recurring with some frequency in the St. Pete area. On the upper right is Donnelly's "Monroe's Smile", which is simultaneously seductive, natural, forced and a frozen scream. Note she also has her middle finger held up to the viewer.
Aurelius Artist, "Musik"

In "Musik", Aurelius Artist (talk about a nome de guerre!) writes (in the sense of Graffiti) the word "Music" in a very stylized and strangely familiar way. There are words written in two places within the frame, one repeats the word, the other I couldn't make out at the show or in the pictures. There are drip/washes in the image. One of the things that give this strength are the colors in the background, which looks almost like an aqueous reflection. On the right is Aurelius' "Art is War", themed around graffiti writing/sig on a brick wall, with big black drips below it. Note in the upper right hand corner is a little 5.99 c sign. The artist at war in the now pervasive commercialized space. At war with dehumanization, the generic, authority, war...
Christian Thomas, "Good Times"
Christian Thomas, who is in the upcoming Urban Art show at the Morean Arts Center, showed "Good Times". [Those little blue dots on the upper right are reflections]. The artist looks over his shoulder behind him are several female figures and heads. Some are in sexual positions, one about to suicide (I own another painting related to that person/event by Christian Thomas). Before him a grid of  Street Art designs. From his mouth, a looping wisp of what could be smoke or stylized speech.

Scott Hillis' work in this show related to power, its inequities and distribution both at the local and global level. On the right, in "To Protect &  To Serve", we see a nightclub floating above blood spatters. A mean-looking pig also dripping blood, below which a green dollar sign is juxtaposed to a bit of graffiti. On the upper right, a can of spray paint with a smile on its face dripping pink onto a donut. There's a bit of reverse power flow there.

On the left is Hillis' Imperialism V 2.0". On a background of money an old white suit with devil's horns and colored blue grins sadistically, gloating in his own power holding a briefcase from which a gas hose emerges and goes to the nozzle in his right hand. These are icons of the flow of power and the inhumane distortions that happen when it is concentrated in too few hands.

Jenipher Chandley, "Untitled"
 Jen Chandley is revising and redefining the models available to women in terms of the available range of being. Chandley brings a controlled graphic style to her mythopoetic concepts. The mix is work of rare clarity. I chose two small works, apparently untitled. They both show beautiful women who are far from helpless and secure in who they are. Like all of Chandley's women, they are beautiful. These appear to be denizens of the zombie apocalypse era (today). Feminine in their own way, individuated, open and invulnerable. On the left, an attractive being left after The Rapture holds her 12-gauge pump pistol-gripped shotgunat the ready, but not aiming it at you. On the right, another woman, this time in profile, holds her semi-auto pistol in a defensive position. Don't make the wrong move...

 Congratulations to all the artists, Derek Donnelly for putting the show together beautifully on short notice, and to the Emerald for hosting.

See it at 550 Central Avenue, St. Pete. Time for best viewing (fewest people), around 4:00 PM.

--- Luis


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