Maybe it’s spring or the waning recession, but Woot!, the group show at the Ice Box consisting of graduating MFAs from the Tyler School of Art, is a nice change from the art world’s current obsession with noir-ish nightmares.
Or maybe it’s this particular class of students that makes this show so fun and friendly.
With rambunctious works that explore everything from pop culture to current events and personal material, the 22 artists in this student-organized and faculty-judged exhibit are explorers at play. In some cases, the works are tinged with a little anger and irony, but the good news is that this show puts despair in a box for contemplation another day.
The paintings here are lively, and the subject matter and paint applications vary so much that you’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint a “Tyler” style among them.
Dan Schein’s oil paintings are mock-heroic cartoons, and his large, drippy brush strokes give off a dreamlike ambiance. Schein’s narratives don’t add up to a coherent story—or even an incoherent story—but there’s plenty of room for the viewers to come up with their own. Stuart Lorimer’s oil paintings likewise allude to some kind of story but don’t quite get there. In fact, Lorimer, one of the five student organizers of the show, told me he once painted narrative works with so much content he began to question just what he was doing and why. Now, in an opposite extreme, he paints works like “The Suck” and “After the Dance,” which depict a carefully abstract shape in a color field—something that looks like a religious icon from Mars. Ash Ferlito’s oil on canvas, “Tell Me What to Do,” a rotary telephone floating in a sea of black, is also iconic. Emily Davidson’s lovely and surreal “Shipwreck,” is especially striking: a tiny piece depicts improbably gorgeous rubble in an urban environment.
Among the objects on display, Giles Hefferan’s “The Gates of Horn and Ivory” is the standout. Of course, it helps that the white foam core tower almost reaches the ceiling and that at its top is a tiny, well-lit city under glass (it’s a blue-tinged Emerald City). Tim Rusterholz’s virtuosic “The Vision of Constantine” weds a classically styled horse head of pink foam insulation with a rocking-horse bottom to suggest the emperor at play. Also playful is Leslie Friedman’s “Sukkot Ramp,” a hand-serigraphed path of linoleum tiles that runs up what looks to be a skateboard ramp on one wall and dead-ends after a hairpin turn in a wall without a ramp. Why she used a suicidal Jewish holiday skateboard ramp is something I couldn’t figure out though. Matt Ziemke’s exaggerated ceramic drip is a great pop art moment somewhat confused by the wood constructions in the mixed-media installation that surround it.
Of course, no show is complete without video and digital works. And of those entries, Matt Kalasky’s video “Addresses (our last symposium trailer)” is a nice wry package. The artist sits at a desk reading from a script as if he’s the president in a disaster film addressing the world via television, bidding a final farewell before a looming apocalypse. The piece ends with a musical clip from a Beatles song slowed down to a dirge. Nearby, Emily Rooney’s crotch-focused, black-and-white video “Single for the Night, Brooklyn queers dance to Lil Wayne” could have broken the monotony of seeing one crotch after another (they’re all clothed) if the video showed an occasional face. And David King’s animation “Plastic Palin/Plastic Marx” needs more Marx and less Palin to balance its message that all idealogues are one in the same. As it is, Palin dominates the media. Who wants to look at or think about that?
The Tyler students, who fundraised in order to produce this show from start to finish, have done a great job of filling the space with works big and small. Look for solo shows by each of the graduating MFAs beginning March 16 at Tyler’s Temple Gallery.
Through March 13. Reception: Thurs., March 10, 6-9pm. Ice Box Project Space and Grey Area,
Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St. cranearts.com
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