A good collaborative gallery show is like a good relationship—each artist’s work supports the other without being repetitive or unharmonious. “The Give and Take,” an exhibition in The Joseph Gross Gallery at The University of Arizona School of Art by Kristin Bauer and Emmett Potter, works on both levels. The married couple often collaborates and has exhibited together on numerous occasions.
The artists both work in multimedia and they share a similar aesthetic and point of view. Bauer says,
“I often juxtapose two or more iconic references or material of my own creating, drawing from a wide range of sources that spans anything from Renaissance sculpture to Jayne Mansfield, Shakespeare to Spielberg films, the Great Gatsby to Cheap Trick. How we make meaning of things as cognitive creatures, what we attach to and what we are repelled by is what keeps me engaged.”
Similarly, Potter incorporates vintage comic book imagery into his work. He combines different color palettes and emphasizes what is absent against what is present, making pointed statements about pop-culture. Both Bauer and Potter adapt, appropriate, alter and excavate our shared public domain in an attempt to decode how we attach meaning to the iconography of our culture.
On exhibit since May 28, a closing reception for “The Give and Take” will be held on August 29 from 5:30-7 p.m.
Through the metamorphic conversion of discarded paraphernalia given a second life, art created from materials otherwise destined for a landfill has turned waste into resource. In a conscious reflection of a recycled object’s inherent value as a cultural statement, the fragmented disarray of salvaged goods conjoin as a reflection on the surplus of consumerism. Computer relics and plastic toys from the 1990’s resurface as jarring, three-dimensional works that reestablish a value beyond their initial introduction as cultural commodities. Extending the life of goods long since forgotten, the immortalization of a wastefulness that continues to swell stands as not only a poignant reminder of the ecological decay resulting from our consumption, but the opportunity to revisit and remake otherwise quotidian, superfluous goods.
Working predominately, if not entirely, with upcycled goods, the following artists create stunning installation and sculptural works that are a visual whirlpool of texture, color and line.
Artist Ron English is best known for his bright and playful pop culture aesthetic, and a blending of high and low art cultures, something he refers to as “popaganda.” A multitude of characters and references populate his works, and it’s this accessibility that lends his work its effectiveness. One particular painting – Picasso’s Guernica – represents a modern template for English that he has interpreted over 50 times, and English approaches each interpretation aware and reverent of the original’s cultural significance.
English writes, “[Guernica] is a visual shorthand for the overwhelming and gratuitous horror of modern war. But I argue that the cultural takeaway of Guernica is actually the opposite. It transforms incomprehensible tragedy into a cartoon narrative, something we can more easily absorb. This is part of the human process, to distance ourselves from the immediacy of undiluted, overwhelming emotions by overlaying a narrative that simplifies, and in effect, takes us down from three to two dimensions. And this is the underlying concept that I grapple with in all my many versions of Guernica.”
English’s approach to the Guernica template resonates throughout much of his work; the artist often interprets our visually-saturated cultures, recontextualixing familiar imagery in order to critique or present ideas that can be more easily absorbed. In order to capture particular lighting and angles, English constructs 3D models of some his concepts before painting them. While each interpretation is unique in its imagery, English admits he’s “…always riffing on the same basic message — that cultural bias is embedded in our narrative. [His] Guernicas call attention to the product placement of global corporate culture, using war as entertainment and entertainment as war.” (via huffington post)
Bob Egan, a real estate agent during the day, becomes a “pop culture detective” by night. Egan’s PopSpots features images of album covers and television and film shots superimposed on and lined up with a photo of the shooting location as it appears today. Though Egan has researched images that were shot in other places, most of the images he researches have been shot in New York City, with many in Manhattan, a part of the city that is continuously in flux. Accompanying each superimposition are details of Egan’s research, including maps and resources he’s used, such as the New York Public Library’s digital archives, to deduce exact locations based on image details and correspondences surrounding the creation of each iconic image. Egan’s project began with his curiosity of where Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” cover was shot, a place he has yet to discover. He has been able to find other Dylan album covers, however, and cites classic rock as his “music comfort food,” something that is not surprising based on the particular albums Egan has so far superimposed. Over time, Egan’s project evolved to include television and film stills, as well as other iconic photographs from the same era. (via open culture)
Brooklyn-based artist Hannah Kunkle puts Kim Kardashian on the altar, literally. Kunkle delivers Kardashian as the Virgin Mary, Medusa, the devil and even Kleopatra. With a flashy net-art inspired aesthetic, the artist takes Kim’s iconic, worshiped image and puts it to work, naturally, with religious/cultish iconography. The controversial juxtaposition is rather riveting as its subtle insights perfectly captures the absurdity of our nation’s obsession with Kardashian and celeb idolatry in general. “We have accepted her into our lives via television screens, memes, and Instagram feeds”, she says. “If Jay Z is the father and Yeezus is the son, then she is the ever-present holy ghost of pop culture.”
According to the Huffpost, Kunkle’s recent exhibition in Bushwich titled “The Passion of Kim Kardashian” caused some controversy amongst the religious community in New York. “It’s deplorable,” Pastor Reggie Stutzman of Real Life Church told The New York Daily News. “It’s sacrilegious, irrelevant, and disrespectful… It’s idol worship.” The Hindu community had opinions about it too. “I am certainly not happy about this,” said Dr. Uma Mysorekar, of the Hindu Temple Society of North America. “Any religious symbol should not be used or abused.” (Via Huff Post)
There’s a pervasive sense of childlike fantasy that seems to underline many pop surrealist works. Make-believe animals that don checkered coats, tight rope walkers and re-imagined cats all vibrate within and beyond the confines chosen by each artist at hand.
The alluring world of pop surrealism frequently ushers in a sense of mythical innocence and humor, unifying the superficial world of popular culture with the recesses of the unconscious. With underlying themes of fragility and the macabre delicately hidden beneath a veil of cultural kitsch, saccharine sweet dreamscapes transform and redefine a caustically bright world enamored with packaged goods. The fantastical worlds created through the lens of the following artists explores the relationship between the seemingly pristine and the accompanying bittersweet decay that dwells beneath it. Featured artists include: Casey Weldon, Mac Sorro, Rafael Silveira, Leslie Ditto, and Britt Ehringer.
If traditional engagement rings aren’t really your thing, Pittsburg based jewelry designer Paul Michael Bierker has some unique designs that might just float your boat. As the jeweler to science fiction buffs everywhere, he creates custom-made pieces inspired by everything from the Star Wars franchise to Marvel comic books. Bierker has built for himself quite the fan base of young, eager clients, and he is proud to have worked with several US troops over seas in Afghanistan towards creating one-of-a-kind engagement bands.
Popular designs include an R2D2 -inspired engagement ring and a band featuring a diamond encrusted TARDIS from popular television show Doctor Who. Though evocative of these pop culture treasures, Bierker’s collection maintains an elegant subtlety. Rings modeled after the TIE fighter or the X-wing shed the unwieldy bulk of the star ships in favor of clean, sophisticated lines. The X-wing ring becomes a delicate ornament, its bands stylishly crisscrossing in the center the finger. Bierker’s tender references to geek culture meld effortlessly with the maturity of his craftsmanship, appealing both to playful and refined clients.
Bierker occupies a groundbreaking space in a one of our countries biggest industries, subverting elitist limitations on what and what does not constitute an engagement ring. This symbol of lifelong commitment should be as individual and the couple who wears it, and amid the mass of conformity, it’s nice to see something new. As we move into the adult responsibilities of marriage, we hope to carry with us each of our childhood pleasures, and Bierker’s original work certainly reminds us that marriage should be as much of an adventure as a trip into space. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)
Sam Grant, an American painter and photographer, creates incredibly catchy, humorous, and colorful pieces that are pop and vintage inspired. The vibrantly-colored imagery vibes with intensity, grandeur and witty observations; his collage-like compositions create a visual interplay between surreal elements, pulp imagery of the mid-20th century, and contemporary culture.
Though Grant’s paintwork is incredibly realistic, he still renders his subjects and settings with a whimsical appeal. Often paired with words (comic book style), his paintings reference several characteristics of contemporary culture; from texting to ideas of love and beauty, Grant covers it all in a subtle and comical way that, together with the vintage imagery, will make you wanna go back to the simpler times.
If you live in Oakland, California, you will have the chance to experience these pieces in person. Starting in March 7th,2014, Grant’s work will be on view at Loakal Gallery‘s Double Vision, a show inspired and completely devoted to/by Grant’s work. Double Vision will be up until April 1st, 2014.