Sunday, September 25, 2011

To Catch a Sparrow or Net a Fox

I stopped by the opening of To Catch a Sparrow or Net a Fox, a show on view at Oak Barrel Tavern with the work of Lisa Shimko, Hirona Matsuda, Sara Boyts Yoder, and Lisa Abernathy. I'd already seen Lisa Shimko's work since we both rented studios at Tivoli, and I'd already seen Lisa Abernathy's stuff at another show at Oak Barrel Tavern a month or so ago.

Lisa Shimko does fantastic paintings that are sometimes a mix of abstract and figurative, with birds often, and sometimes purely abstract colors and shapes. The abstract stuff is my favorite because they are freely expressive and loose and her colors are phenomenal.  So I was surprised when she showed, instead, lots of index card-sized paintings of illustration-style animals on decorative backgrounds. She's very talented and they were priced very affordably, so... buy them now. While you can.

[Image: vertical rectangular layout on an index-card-sized burgundy paper with markings that has been painted over. Background is divided equally by horizon line, with sky a light dove grey with thick brushstrokes and ground a darker dove grey with little grey-green vertical marks creating a grass-like texture. In forground there's a yellow post silhouetted by the ground upon which a finch (??) is perched, silhouetted by the sky. It's a side view of a very realistically painted grey, black and white bird.]

I didn't get any photos of Lisa Abernathy's stuff because it was behind reflective glass, inside, at night, and I had a full beer in one hand. So, here's some photos from that older show that I'd intended to write about but never did.

[Image: greeting-card-sized collage behind glass with a thick black decorative frame. Background is covered with newspaper- or dictionary-like paper scattered and layered at odd angles. Foreground is a black paper cutout with a scalloped frame, as in a stage set, with a cartoonish or exaggerated female figure sitting at a crazy, unnatural angle, holding something-- a typerwriter?-- with a word bubble coming out of her mouth that I cannot read due to my own crap photography. Words are cut out of paper. Two more word bubbles float upward.]

[Image: collage behind glass, framed in thick wood frame. Background is vintage whitish-pastel print of a cottage, country land and flowers. Foreground is black paper cutout with scalloped frame. Puffy clouds "hang" down from the top like a stage set, three sparse trees with hanging-down leaves or Spanish moss and some flowers and grass grow from the bottom of the frame. A female figure in a dress "flies" across, also suspended by strings, blowing puffs of air that look like swirls.]

She had more paper cutouts but this time they were more stark black paper on white backgrounds. There was a tiger face baring its fangs and inside its mouth a small peaceful figure beckoning to the viewer. Others were classic storytelling devices with unexpected twists-- not overwrought irony, I mean *actually* unexpected twists-- and a jungle-like feeling. Once you get past the rich texture and the impressive technique of the work the content is dreamy and imaginative. She uses vintage textiles or papers and silhouettes to tell stories but somehow, somehow avoids preciousness. She also evoked a little of that Southern tradition of antebellum, often racist silhouette scenery in her last show-- again with unexpected twists-- but this work seemed more African- and Southeast Asian- influenced.

 I liked Sarah Boyts Yoder's paintings, so I'm glad she's got another show coming up that opens Oct. 8 on view right now at Flagship. She had big abstract blue, white and black paintings on canvas with some collage and sharpie involved. There's not much to write about, as this is the kind of art that it's best to just look at. The mark-making was fluid and confident, the colors were deep and bold, the compositions were dynamic and lively... good stuff. I didn't notice the nautical theme until I glanced at the titles, which were all about boats and the sea. But once I did the paintings could all be read loosely as illustrations of wave motion and the waterline that, like the other work at the show, told a story.

[Image: several of Yoder's paintings grouped on a wall, ranging from a 10 x 10 inch square canvas to a two-ish by three-ish foot canvas]

[Image: smaller square canvas with collage and abstract painting. Top is a large blue scallop shape, like clouds. Middle-top swath is thickly textured bright white "sky," and bottom half is a jumble of blue, black and white shapes on grey "waves." The literal reading as a seascape is very iffy.The waves are filled with patterned markmaking, collage-ed paper and two black upside-down "U" shapes.]

I was primed by the storytelling theme to see Hirona Matsuda's shallow, almost 2-D wall-hanging sculptures as narratives too, even though if I'd seen them isolated on some white wall somewhere I'd have immediately thought of Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson, Modernism, and Abstract Expressionism. When I see more of Hirona Matsuda's work around Charleston I'll probably write a post about it, b/c I need a little time to think it over.

[Image: several of Matsuda's sculptures hanging on a wall, one box long and vertical, about 1 x 3 feet, one smaller, maybe 8 x 10 inches, one maybe a foot square.]

[Image: shallow 12-inch-square sculpture, like a shadow-box or diorama in a black frame. Inside is grey concrete-like texture with two shelves on the upper right and two black wires run vertically in front of the shelves. Rusted found objects are placed on the shelves and there's a rusted porcelain doorknob standing at the left of the shelves with an old skeleton key dangling above it from the top of the piece.]

Go see the show, it's at Oak Barrel Tavern in Avondale, 825-B Savannah Highway, on view thru late October.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crazy stupid love

So I saw Crazy Stupid Love the other night. Aaaannnnd... I sorta liked it? Romantic comedies usually suck because they're generally not funny and because they aren't romantic. Like, usually the woman girl is knocked off her high horse (which I'm supposed to savor because I'm supposed to hate and pity successful women?) and humiliated by one thing after another. The guy and girl hate each other. That's not very romantic. The guy is usually cocky enough for this scene to be included: [Her:]"Oh yeah? Well you don't know anything about me!," [Him:]"Ok, [describes details of her life and outlines her insecurities in the most insulting patronizing way possible]," [Her face becomes shocked, then she makes a pitiful attempt at covering it:] "You think you're pretty smart, huh? [humiliation followed immediately by sex]."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Helene Schjerfbeck

I'm linking to a great post about Finnish painter and avid self-portraitist Helene Schjerfbeck at Echidne's blog. Unfortunately I cannot figure out how to link to the post and not the entire weekly archive of posts, as the blog format is weird to me, but scroll down till you see Mademoiselles Who Dabble With Paints: Helene Schjerfbeck. If you don't feel like reading words scroll further down to see a very cool progression of self portraits throughout this woman's life that also chronicles early 20th century artistic movements.

[Image: a photograph of the painter from the 1890's or so dressed very modestly, sitting tall and looking a little wary of the photographer.]