Friday, April 8, 2011

The Exquisite Corpse at Anderson Creative Gallery

If one just reads the title of this exhibit and assumes a literal interpretation, then one will be soundly disappointed. If you are a fan of those children’s books where pages are separated to be flipped back and forth creating new “people”, then Pugsly and Wednesday want autographed copies.  A little creepy and a lot of clever, this modern take on an old Surrealist art form is lying in wait for your examination.

For a gallery now known to focus heavily on the use of the written word as part of its exhibitions, I was surprised to find no text. Rats. With the bodies laid out like a morgue, what fun it would have been to see their “names” perhaps comprised from the artists involved much like the recent show focused on an imaginary explorer. Along with the names, a brief obituary would have been fun too to learn how this creature lived or became who or what it was. A few other people were viewing the show at the same time I was eavesdropping and they expressed the same sentiment. With no need for reading glasses this time, I got to really focus only on the visuals below me.

The posted statement explains how randomly chosen artists, literally names drawn from a hat, were matched up with only the color of their paper template to connect them. Of the 48 artists, 26 were familiar names. How those particular 48 ended in the hat is not explained. Theoretically, they were to not know who shared Dr. Frankenstein’s vision for their final creation but I could not help but notice how some pieces just flowed together ….well…..exquisitely, some not just by media and value, but by content. For example, Wanda Montgomery made a swaschbuckler style body complete with a buckle which then connected to Lynda Tuttle’s disco ball butt in jeans that still had belt loops. Surreal for sure. So too does one find a flow within the delicacy of the Lawson/Nash/Rosenstock figure and a connection of intricacy between the panels of the Benton/Stegner/Jimenez body.

These 16 works can be seen as one overall work of art as well as 48 individual pieces, some in signature styles and some completely unfamiliar. Emily Vigil’s is quite personal to her current life role and Michele Waalkes is an extension of her chosen media.  Some pieces made me want to see more of that artist’s personal body of work such as Stacie Marie Leech and Matthew Doubek. Others required closer study of their drawing skills to see such things as the intricate backwards spiral signature of Jamie Stegner. 

Pieces are prices separately and in a wide range of choices with a combo plate discount should one desire to mix and match their accessories. Smatterings of red dots are already on the walls so visitors are snatching up their favorite artists and laying claim to these body parts. Should one choose to only mentally cut and paste a new creature, standing at the “foot” and between two platforms allows one to visually switch things around. Just now it came to me that what fun it could be to have a game of musical chairs so to speak at the end of the show (without any body (ha ha) being “out” each round) that allowed patrons to reassemble each corpse to see new possibilities. 

All in all, this is a fun and fantastical installation which lends itself to a reappearance perhaps around Halloween 2012 and centered around a costume party opening where different costume parts could be mixed and matched among the attendees. Just one question however…what is up with all the red octopi? There are 3 literal renderings of entwined octopus tentacles and one insinuated by imagery, all done in red. I won’t speculate.

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