Thursday, March 6, 2008

Odd Birds

One of my earliest memories of David Lauderdale, is of reading an interview where he said that he believed that most of the art being made today was/is a footnote to art history.

I disagreed with him then, and I disagree with him now. I believe that even if every curator, gallery owner and collector is wrong about the art that is considered relevant, the best and most valued will still rise to the top after time.

This evening, as well as last Saturday night, OPAQ Gallery hosted “Two Birds,” a show featuring the installation work of Mark Creegan, and Lauderdale’s paintings/assemblages. I attended the Saturday opening.

Creegan’s works were interesting and charming in a sweet, off-kilter way. His installations included a hairnet and bubble mountain, toothpaste stripes, and sharks’ teeth framed in gold foil.

He said the sharks’ teeth had all been collected by his wife, that when he was at the beach, he could never find any. Anyone who has ever tried to, will acknowledge that collecting sharks’ teeth is a very deliberate act, requiring patience and sharp eyes. And really, there is something of an art to it. The first time I ever found a shark’s tooth, I was ridiculous enough to think that someone had placed it on the sand for me…and my only companion at the beach that day was my dog.

Thus, the teeth, in addition to aesthetic objects, become symbols of monumental patience and deliberateness within a domestic and semi-idle framework (hunting for beach treasures isn’t exactly quantifiable or reliable). The frame, constructed of discarded foil serving dishes, is correspondingly grand and disposable—and like the teeth, the interest value is in the effort of the transformation.

Lauderdale’s works: black, white, red, white, and blue with electric guitars affixed to the surfaces, seemed to be at once macho and sneering. It’s hard to take icons--especially those already assigned a sort of cultural value--and reinvent them in an engaging manner.

When this is accomplished in a hurry, as Lauderdale admitted he’d done, the result has very few subtleties and layers. The works seemed to inhabit a sort of bizarre middle-ground between a snarky commentary on American pop culture and a hero-worship of the electric guitar form. A sort of grand statement reached for, but not quite caught.

Perhaps it is okay to make art with deliberation, patience, and a lower case “a.” Let art history take care of itself.

As a brief aside, Artwalk this time around, yielded a surprising find: Lara Simmons. Her line quality was interesting and sure. However the small collection she was showing lacked coherence. It is also clear that the artist is going through what must be the requisite Egon Schiele phase of her career. Her challenge will be to successfully translate her draftsmanship into larger-scale, or just more cohesive works.


kelly said...

I had wondered when this was coming. It's too bad you missed Barry Wilson's show.

What I noticed about Mark Creegan's work was an underlying fascination with light (although the shark's teeth/foil piece, and perhaps the hair nets, were kind of red herrings in this case). The toothpaste seemed to be like a diagram of a light source, with red, green, and blue toothpaste representing light's primary colors. The recolorized (wow. Is that a word?) photographs of rainbows, a water and light phenomenon, was playfully revealing the color in a "black and white" photograph. I liked that he had the bubble mountain in conversation with this piece, but my mind is still tightly wrapped around those hair nets. But all in all, I really liked Creegan's works.

madeleine said...

Interesting observation about's sort of an elegant leitmotif through which to consider his works...

kelly said...

I told him at the show what I noticed. I hope he pursues an exploration of the science of light. It's such an amazing thing; we aren't even all that sure about its nature, but it helps us get through every day, is responsible in part for our existence, how we understand the world...Every time I think of light beyond the visual spectrum I get into a nerdy little tailspin.

madeleine said...

You might be interested to check out James Turrell's work (if you already haven't) then: Amazing and beautiful.

kelly said...

Oh yeah, he's cool. And the guy (I'm far too lazy at this moment) who worked in glass, especially mirrored glass. Total reflectivity (I think) was his deal.

Dude. What would I do without art:21?

But I'm more on a Spencer Finch kick than anything. He does a lot with memory and perception as well as light.

madeleine said...

I'll hafta check him out. -mp