3.02.2009

the freakin' weekend (we just had)

for, um, years now, R. Kelly's jiving song "Ignition" has run through my head whenever we near the end of a week. Specifically when he pronounces with gusto "It's the freakin' weekend, baby/ I'm about to have me some fun" just before dissolving into bouncebouncebouncebounce... etc.

in the future, look through my posts labeled 'freakin' weekend' for a look into openings that will happen or have happened. when i can, i will try to give you a head's up for shows, openings, and events coming up that i've taken a shining to. and, like in this post, try to recap what i've seen after the fact.



this weekend, i had quite a bit of writing to do, namely completely the review i've written about Rebecca Seeman's exhibition that was recently on display at Pearlman Gallery at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
You can read my thoughts about Stellar Attraction here. What I did get out to see was a preview of Jake Constantine's exhibition at Creative Gallery entitled "A Comma in the Sky." Then on the following day, just before heading over to the French film marathon at the Art Academy, I got to swing past the opening of exhibitions by Cheryl Dunn and Antonio Adams at Country Club. Saturday night was the closing of a two person exhibition at our own semantics that featured installations of drawings by Kim Burgas + Steve Kemple. Because these two are friends and because I help run that gallery, my comments can't be objective, but they are sincere and heartfelt. So read on.





detail of painting by Jake Constantine




Constantine has found a number of ways to employ painting to comment on a fascination with technology. That's oversimplifying it, because the work included in the exhibition draws on unidentified flying objects, and two large paintings of views looking out from within open boxes of cereal to create alien terrains for the viewer to implicate themselves into. Obsolescence comes up several times, as the VHS is the subject of at least one painting and a couple of odd little sculptures (the sculptures are two small caskets, each containing a VHS of a well known film from the 1990s). Constantine has found about half a dozen different ways to use painting techniques and panel constructions to comment on television technology (and presumably our relationships with it) throughout the space, making the work itself like a kind of laboratory of options.










i was totally surprised and impressed by Cheryl Dunn's exhibition. the photographs themselves are easy to place into a history of documentary photographers that capture fringe groups in the american experience. Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin spring to mind, along with Dash Snow and Ryan McGinley from a contemporary set of art stars who capture a full spread of the sexual and life-of-the-party antics of their groups of friends and subcultures they participate in. in Dunn's case, at least for this exhibition, were I to guess her targeted subject matter, I saw concert revelers, images that brought up issues of poverty and homelessness, and scenes from more rural American areas.





what captured my attention was the nonlinear, unexpected ways in which the photographs were displayed in the space. the series of framed prints became an aggregate of objects for an installation, sometimes hung from the ceiling with string, mounted on the posts throughout the gallery space, and hung at different heights on the walls. a repeated image of chain link fence, printed off in a salmon colored glow, repeats, unframed, throughout the installation, interrupting, covering, and drawing together areas of the work.

these are images of other installations Dunn has made with her photographs that should give you some idea of what i'm describing of her show at Country Club.


i was impressed.



My words will fail and ruin most of the uncanny, clever moments of painting, imagery, and social commentary that take place in Antonio Adams' paintings. I did not like his work any less than Dunn's, in fact, quite the opposite. I was enchanted with his busty, surly portraits of several of the women who work at ArtWorks, and most of all, with his giant painting made in collaboration with Brian Joiner that is filled with superheroic depictions of comic book characters (superman, iron man, invisible woman, etc.), world political leaders (adolf hitler, osama bin laden, fidel castro, sara palin...), and pop icons like Paris Hilton as the superhero "Pink Plaster Paris." Occasional figures one would recognize from Joiner's other artwork, such as his exhibition at the Weston in 2004. It's been described to me by several people as Adams' Guernica, but I am dubious about defining a thing's legacy and future. Rather, I am happy to speak directly to this work.





drawing by steve kemple



Saturday night was the closing reception of:

It Is Raining & It Might Be Raining Or It Could Be Raining Though It Might Be Raining Or Maybe Not But We Could Be Wrong We Don’t Know But This Much We Already Know*
*new work by Kim Burgas and Steve Kemple

The title reflected well the pile up of poetic fragments of small drawings and drawing on long, scrolls, like run-on sentences that wrapped their way around the walls of the front space at the semantics gallery.





Last year sometime, I had the idea to introduce these two artists and see what would happen in a gallery between their art. Both had been making intricate drawings in ink of abstract contour lines and geometries that erroded into philosophical suspense. Burgas' work was featured in the Coffee Emporium's (my other office) first forray into the Final Friday gallery walk in OTR. I wrote it up, and you can see those remarks HERE by scrolling down a bit and finding the heading Art: Coffee Emporium. In 2007 and 2008, while Kemple was making reference to Chinese scroll paintings, Burgas, after living in Yemen, was drawing similar inspiration from the drawings and paintings of the Middle Eastern Region. Both were building vocabularies of abstract forms in both drawing and in electronic music. Steve performs music as ∆. You can hear samples of his work here. Kim has also explored a musical identity that is strikingly related to the work Steve makes. Her music as Helobiousgnome can be listened to here.

So you see that, coming into this exhibition, their ideas were crashing into one another and overlapping in the most interesting ways. They took the proposition and flew, unwinding scrolls and leaflets of drawings across the walls, and in steve's case, a fluorescent painting directly onto the walls themselves. For the closing reception, the artists invited several local poets to give a series of readings along with Steve Kemple's recent bits of prose. You can read his recent writings at one of his blogs. Oh, here's one of them. I was another one of the readers and it was a pleasure to share several newish 'skit' poems that portray a series of Scenes that take place between the clowns Harlequin and Pierrot. The bulk of their lines are drawn from Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot. In preparing for the reading, I decided to act out both parts myself. The audience seemed responsive. Two other close friends- Nick Hill + Kirsten Johnson- read as well. Kirsten blew the rest of us away. Damn, she writes and reads well.


beyond that evening, we've been working like mad at the front end of Eric Ruschman's install in the gallery. remember, that opening is this saturday from 7 to 10 pm.

and tonight, is Lawrence Weschler's lecture "Divergent Voices, Convergent Visions" at the CAC. Starts at 6:30. After 5 pm on Mondays, the CAC is free, even for non-members, so stop in!




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