Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Monster Show at the Haydon Burns Library was just about what I expected it to be…slightly homespun, ragged around the edges, packed, and overall fun. The unexpected factors included pre-recorded shrieks and music, and a few zombie girls to point the way downstairs…into the basement.
Placing the show in the basement was an aesthetically and functionally (lots of walls, no distractingly teetering easels) good move. Wandering through the interconnected rooms, with steam (?) pipes overhead, there was a certain Freddy-Kruger-goes-to-artschool vibe permeating the place. Or perhaps that is the impression that you take with you if, at the height of your impressionable years (4th grade), your best friend’s older brother lets the two of you enjoy the distinct pleasures of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was decades before I could go to bed without the door cracked to let in a little light.
Interspersed throughout the place were, of course, the works. Ranging from sweet, slightly creepy drawings to Moby Dick/Cthulhu referenced installations the work was diverse, boasting a sense of humor, and a kind of recklessness (not to be confused with carelessness) that speaks to a feeling of joy in the act of creating. It also conjured images of your favorite art(geek) friend not exercising demons, so much as reveling in that 8th grade ambition to be a comic artist: fearless, foolish, brave.
Perhaps the most startlingly solid pieces were two “portraits,” by Clay Doran, a.k.a. Squidust. The portraits, which look like zombie clowns on the third day of a five day bender, evince a easy handling of paint, satisfying mark-making, and stand on their own outside the confines of the (so-called) monster art genre.
All in all, the only downside to show (the sense of fun pervading the space was enough to buoy even pieces I'd normally stop to question), was the meth-face with the quarter-sized-herpes-sore on his upper lip. I'm always down to talk about art--with just about anyone--but when you are so high, you can't read the artist's name in the corner of the piece, I'ma back away slowly. Incidentally, he was then ready to look for Brian Gray...who I described as a short, blond guy. Who's got your back?
*pictured: Squidust vs. Globotron, courtesy urbanjacksonville; the two portraits by Doran; an owl by Grant Thornton (I think…I left my pencil and pad in the car—my apologies to any misnamed persons).