Danielle Julian Norton’s art is slightly horrifying and absolutely fascinating in all its strangeness. Whether it’s a creepy Kubrick-like collaborative performance with fellow artist Tarrah Krajnak or a multi-tiered suspended installation created entirely of rice, glue, and monofilament, Norton’s style elegantly exposes the dark underbelly of weird as something quite shockingly recognizable and hypnotic. Her fantasy is not about the dream. It’s about us. How we are stuck in a twisted understanding of what an animal is or should be: the cruel psychology of our own distance from reality. The need for it. The ego of it. The horror of both.
Kyle Field, an Alabama native living in San Francisco, was born in the 1970s– and his artwork tends to reflect the mood of not only these two places, but also that era. Each craftily drawn watercolor depicts a folk narrative infused and confused with melodious psychedelic tendencies. It’s all so playful and harmonious. We find it challenging not to think of Field’s work in any other way but musical.
Margaret Nomentana’s nonrepresentational art demonstrates a fascinating balance between emotionality and restraint. Often working in a spontaneous manner, and sometimes working on several paintings simultaneously, her imagery reflects moments of clarity, caught in the act of vision and revision. Whether it’s collage or acrylic painting, her gestures evoke “abstract landscapes of the mind” or terse conversations with color and movement.
Of her own artistic desires, Nomentana states, “My strong minimalist impulse is tempered with a dry sense of humor, irony, and in spite of everything, a powerful sense of hope. Alma Thomas is my hero.”
Bianca Stone’s poetry comics are funny, raw, and endearingly sad. Because You Love You Come Apart, her latest collection of surreal illustrations are born from and combined with her own original poetry, published by Factory Hollow, an indie press out of Hadley, MA.
Stone’s blunt tethering between youth and adulthood travels by waves of sorrow and astute blitheness into our darkest nights. For instance, her lines of poetry range from “The crazy, absent fathers, all breaking wind in a fire” to “but this is also your life made with your clumsy hands” and merge with a messy scratch of passionate drawings to gutturally expose a ripcord above our own tired hearts. With each image/text juxtaposition, the need to tug grows harder and tougher, encouraging more half-wounded narratives to release.
Swedish artist Camilla Engman sets a calm yet subtle eerie scene of anxiety in her paintings. For instance, a human figure’s face might appear muddled, transforming the safety of a serene woodland setting while the role of a baby or pet might be replaced with a ghosty genderless blob . . . in the most mundane everyday afternoon way.
These instances of nonchalant marring touch on our own youthful fears of masks and humanoids– or “things” that resemble humans, but deceitfully, are not humans. Think Freddy or Jason. Luckily, Engman’s world does not linger too long in these dreadful places. If we mediate on all the images collectively, we start to see her illustrated society as one where such transmutations cross over beyond the weird and into the norms of a progressive accepting society.
Of her craft, Engman states, “For me, the working part has always been more important then the finished artwork. I love to work – paint/draw/cut. But I also have to admit I don’t like to work in vain. So I have to either learn something or to like the finale. In that way this way of creating never fails me. Something always happens. Be aware, there are no shortcuts though. I have to start from the beginning and work myself through it. With an open mind and eye, and with no judgement.”
There is something fantastically unworldly yet alluringly familiar about Amy Joy Watson’s bright sculptures. Whether it’s a drooping bow or a glitter-filled orb, this Australian’s artful structures feel like a 1986 birthday party, translated or abstracted by a video game of that same era: there are no soft edges, only the disjointed illusion of it.
To make each piece, Watson stitches or glues together watercolor-stained balsa wood, occasionally adding a tasteful Gobstopper here, or helium balloon there, to garnish her own primal sense of whimsy and sacred geometry, resulting in a somewhat spiritual monument to another imaginative age and time.
Maximilian Toth’s beautifully composed chalkboard style paintings depict teenage antics as being not so much about rebellion from authority, but more so, as a series of actions radiating acute aliveness. While favoring the color black, Toth’s strong pops of brightness light up the narrative, mid-action, exposing a new playground of discovery. For instance, there is a certain innate enigmatic pleasure in joyriding a shopping cart around town, simply because, for the first time, without parental supervision, it’s possible. Toth’s work happily meditates on this and other pockets of teenage euphoria without an imposed stringent sense of morality.
Doug Bloodworth’s photo realistic oil paintings transport us to another slower, calmer, and less anxious time. Whether it’s a still life depiction of the Sunday Funnies sprinkled with candies or a road atlas paired with matches and a roll of mints, we can’t help but feel nostalgic for our own quiet tactile interludes and luxuries minus the iPhone or Blackberry.