This small room at Corberry Press held my attention for quite some time. My attitude towards the work swung between appreciation and wonderment. How is it that these many small art objects become legitimate when grouped together and placed into conjunction? The actual work being displayed looks as if the curator salvaged the garbage cans of a High School art class on the day after school ended. Most of the work has that over-earnest quality, those painfully careful but flat brushstrokes. The colors are either muddy or day-glo and rest on shoddy store-bought canvases. Here also is the dedication to a one-liner or stupid joke and the distortions of figure that usually result from ineptitude. But this work explores a trusting ineptitude – one that follows every gesture to its ultimate conclusion, a work ethic which would be missing in most High School art projects.
I really didn’t have any association with either “space” or an “office” (both of which are stated in the official description). The room is far too commonplace and ordinary to describe “Space” (unless we mean the space of a stoned mind) and far too cruddy and haphazard to be an office. More like a dorm room, really… So what held my attention for so long? For one, the quantity and variety of objects lead to extended exploration – just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s another little sculpture hidden in a corner or placed on the windowsill. And the list of works is no help. A map with numbers must be cross-referenced both with the room itself and a separate list of artists’ names. The work also continues to be fascinating – how is it that all of these artists have such a unified vision? Why, for goodness sake, is a weird day-glo painting of a gnome/sasquatch shown with a careful realist depiction of a pot pipe, a terribly ugly bust painted in faux-granite and a silly paperweight rock painted like a cellphone?
All of these elements combine to make the work of the curator much stronger than that of any individual artist. The room itself, and the mentality of the person who chose, organized and displayed this work becomes the overarching message. But what IS the message? Why should a “High School Aesthetic” be championed? Perhaps it is the earnestness that I mentioned before, an appreciation of the small gesture, a nostalgia for that moment of “pure creativity”. I can’t decide if this appreciation is ironic or genuine, wholehearted or sly. I chose to take the show at face value, and see this work as a kind of balm in the face of the overly sleek, impersonal and professional. It’s a sort of charmed space.
- posted by Seth Nehil