The New Pop Art: Culture Vultures
"Culture Vulture" is a diverse group show that highlights art that employs popular culture as a visual starting point. Each artist in the show utilizes current and familiar visual symbols–appropriating them, toying with them, and reinventing them–though some do this with more originality than others. The curatorial statement includes a quote from Carl Andre that reminds us, "Art is what we do. Culture is what is done to us."
There are several standouts in this show. Sandra Bermudez’s digital photographs depict a tree flowering. On closer inspection, we see that each petal contains Bermudez herself, costumed as a Vegas showgirl. Her work highlights the, sometimes flagrant, beauty of the female body. She uses the archetypical female form, one often depicted in terms of nature or sex, and adorns it with her own symbols fashioned from nature (feathers, petals) and the stage.
Video Work by Alexander Reyna is a decorative psychedelic fantasy trip through his memory of pop culture. His piece offers a colorful, ornamental and strobe effect to the space, layering dreamy images of bubbles, swirls and faces across the screen. Reyna’s video is one of the best pieces in the show: not merely an impressive technological device, but compelling to watch.
Dean Monogenis’ painting depicts architecture in scaffolding, a spilt panel of two angles of the structure. His work superimposes fragile architecture, which could imply a body in flux, with lighter, fashionable decorative elements.
Carla Gannis’ work is a digital photo collage of the interior of a home in Anywhere, Middle America. A pink "I Dream Of Genie" pops out of the middle of a grey living room. The power in this piece exists in its strangeness. The domestic space and its residents appear drab, monochromatic. The work implies that the inner life of these individuals is only activated through watching television and connecting to popular media icons.
The Emmanuel Gauthier’s color photography depicts a cake-like merry go round, popping with color and decoration. The merry go round flaunts flourishes of flower arrangements, women in gowns and exotic birds. Somehow with all this over the top decoration Gautier’s image is still the subtlest in the show as it truly transforms a gaudy merry go round into something fantastic and unreal.
In Ginna Tripplet’s painting, pornographic vignettes of women in monochromatic color (in this case red) dancing, bending and frolicking across the canvas. Her work is skillfully executed, an virulent, energetic painting. The style is as playful as her imagery. Tripplet has appropriated emotionally flat pornographic imagery and has somehow infused her work with joyousness.
Katherine Daniels’ sculptural work references Appalachian blankets and her family’s southern heritage. Her piece hangs from an alcove in the space like a gorgeous beaded chandelier constructed from mass produced and familiar plastic baubles. Daniels is primarily a painter who uses the same type of materials such as beads and fabric in her 2-D work. Here she has effectively and freshly altered her painting into three dimensions.
Russell Nachman’s watercolor portrays a fairly tale garden with mini living pods and sound equipment such as a metronome. This work is a mischievous and dreamlike vision of an imaginary world seen in microscopic detail. And one wishes to see the creatures that inhabit the space.
Culture Vulture establishes that the world of popular culture is still a deep source to draw from for visual art; it forces us to redefine the genre of "Pop Art" for the 21st century.
Artists Exhibited: Sandra Bermudez, Marcy Brafman , David Henry Brown, Amie Cunningham, Katherine Daniels, Carla Gannis Emmanuelle Gauthier, Susan Hamburger, Karen Heagle, Elizabeth Huey, Dean Monogenis, Russell Nachman, Diana Puntar, Alexander Reyna, Gae Savannah, Raven Schlossberg, Philip Simmons, Cindy Tower, Ginna Triplett, Conrad Vogel.