Friday, May 11, 2012

The Kids Are Alright: Scratch The Surface @ Blue Lucy

The Kids are Alright: Coralette Damme and Matt Deterior
 I had XXL reservations about the Scratch the Surface show at Blue Lucy. No less than one-hundred plus artists were either invited or walked in and bought a $20.00 wooden box on which their art would go, then be hung in the show. These things are not done in the fine arts world in larger markets because they normally do not work well, if at all. Without curation, theme, a hundred  artists guaranteed participation for $20, things like this end up bland, distended and inconsistent -- at best -- most of the time.

Not this time. This show wildly exceeded my expectations. Maybe it was Blue Lucy's invitation list,  the walk-ins, and/or a little luck was involved, but for me, it was the caliber of the artists in the area.

In the photo above, Coralette's empowering work, "I am not a deadly sin", and Matt's media comment "Con Man" are in the upper left and right hand corners, respectively.

Reid Jenkins, "One Kind of Night"

 Reid Jenkins' "One Kind of Night"  shows a man and a woman in front of blocks of generic apartment buildings. They are individuated in ther dress. He caresses her loving face, she holds a rose. What kind of night is this? A romantic, love-filled one. One to remember, treasure and build on. Paradise is wherever we choose to make it happen. Note how their hair streams out into the sky. This is a starry, starry night.

Frank Strunk, "Scrutiny"

"Scrutiny", by Frank Strunk III, is an animated metal piece involving a blinking eye and a monocle that slides over it to increase its powers of observation. The plates are rigidly geometric and offset by the multiply joined steampunk arm and associated hardware that moves the monocle.
The Machine is watching us.

Alex Glueck/Stoic, "The Creation of the Annunaki"
"Stoic", A.K.A. Alex Glueck's "The Creation of the Annunaki" has an ethereal, spiritual/ghostly presence. Look at the panel he is painting at Venture Compound and you will see similar figures [Link]. Originally a Babylonian myth, the Annunaki are assigned to their stations, three hundred of them on Earth. The figure, white, its bones visible, curly tongue hanging from its grinning mouth juggles a yellow orb with a scarab on it. It is a weightless moment.

Melissa Loera, "Navajo"

Melissa Loera has focused on animals frequently over the years. I remember an X-ray mixed media piece of a wolf or fox that was extraordinary. Here she has painted a nearly-surreal armadillo, its abdomen wrapped in a Navajo blanket, going about its business in a sandy environment. The blanket is almost like an extra layer of armor protecting it.

Work by Sarah Thee Campagna

Sarah Thee Campagna, of Cybercraft Robots, made "Stowaway Aboard the Orbiting Laboratory", shown on the right. We see a segment of the Orbiting Lab comprised of a patchwork quilt of stressed metal rectangles & squares with screw heads. A series of copper pipes emerge and retreat into the metal surface. On the lower left, there's a porthole where the stowaway looks out. The window is backlit with green light. We humans are on an orbiting lab of sorts, too. 

Derek Donnelly, "Max Headroom"

Derek Donnelly, owner of the Saint Paint gallery does a lot of celebrity portraits. Here he has brought us Max Headroom. Remember Max? He was a satire of Television 'personalities'. This is an anti-celebrity celebrity, if you will, a tourguide of the Dystopia. Derek, self-referring to the computer-generated Max (who ironically, was analogue in the show!) has extended from the plane of the box into 3-D with a monitor attached to the box, on the surface of which Max is painted. This is a work that turns itself inside out conceptually.

Jennipher Chandley, "Bite Me"

Jennipher Chandley painted a duet of of observant, alert, beautiful and poised Medusae, their hair a mass of snakes. Originally there were three Gorgon sisters. The legend of the snakes came from their dreads. Gorgons were North African High Priestesses who entered Euro consciousness when Rome used that region as its breadbasket.

Congratulations to all 103 artists.  Scratch the Surface is a wonderful show. The best Who's Who of St. Pete artists to date. I still think that uncurated, themeless, buy-into shows are a bad idea in general, but this one worked quite well. The Kids are alright, and so is Blue Lucy.

--- Luis

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