First Friday Art Trail: August
Your longsuffering was well rewarded if you braved Friday’s convection oven of an afternoon to see this First Friday Art Trail’s new exhibitions. At Charles Adams’ 5&J gallery was the invitational exhibition curated by Alberto Careaga and Chad Plunket, “G|R|A|Y|S|C|A|L|E”. Careaga and Plunket brought together 16 artists’ work whose only commonality was their lack of color. This loose connection allowed each work to stand very much on its own with only one obvious suggestion for the viewer’s consideration: form comes first. The monochromacy allowed Andrew Martin’s small landscape paintings on vignette-edged panel to make a physical object, a form, out of the deterioration of an image (in this case, the image’s existence as a deteriorating reproduction seems to supersede its content—the physical presence of an image in a set physical template seems more important than what specific thing the image depicts). Opposite the space, John Robert Craft’s “Full Circle” features a relief print depicting a vague gesture of a circular movement and a cast steel object, seemingly a worthless drill bit. Using the format of an incense altar and icon, Craft’s piece suggests an odd shrine to indirectness of objecthood. And in the center of the space, Harrison Brooks’ custom (black and white) chopper delivers its meta-commentary in perfect deadpan: “and this is also a form”.
Harrison Brooks by his chopper. Photocredit: Alberto Careaga
In the LHUCA’s main hall, the photographic exhibition “Almost Home” by Jiawei Gong consists of two groups of monolithic photographs printed on canvas and presented as unrolled scrolls. Each group is a number of vertical-format photographs taken from a single vantage point (a cotton field and a large city park, respectively). Each image reproduces the view of a different direction, though with no apparent order (as in a panorama). The works, taken individually or as a group appear with such imposing presence (think Mark Rothko) and concern such pedestrian scenes that you are forced either to abandon viewing them or contemplate their whispered meaning. A perception of a place almost but not quite home sets you on a precipice of the unutterable bigness of the world, just before that bigness collapses and you enter the small familiarity of home. They depict the perceived enormity of your surroundings before recognition shrinks them down to home-scale. The poetic contrast here is well worth the effort.
Jiawei Gong "Almost Home". Photo courtesy of LHUCA
“Reports En Route”, an exhibition of recent works on paper by John Mattson, showcases the cohesive, distinct sensibility of his work, which he describes as his “diary”. In what strikes me as the descendent in equal measure of Wassily Kandinsky and Man Ray, Mattson’s work depicts a chalky surrealism that includes recurring motifs of genitalia and members of the excretory system, wiry hair, cylindrical ducts for liquids, and fleshy abstractions set against exaggerated geometrical backgrounds. He blends these to produce articulated, integrated relationships between foreground and background as well as thoughtful plays among color. The works which, incidentally, are suspended from the LHUCA’s walls with push pins (75 examples of which are available for $1.99 at Hobby Lobby), exhibit overall a polished personal aesthetic that more than fairly admits recollection of previous veins of artistic effort.
John Mattson "Reports En Route". Photo courtesy of LHUCA