State of the Union: Politically Charged to #resist
by Genie Davis
On view through February 25th
Brainworks Gallery, Erin Adams’ new artist-run space in mid-city, hosted the opening of State of the Union last Saturday, a politically potent exhibition featuring cutting edge art work offering visually strong support to #resist.
Curated by Erin Adams, Kristine Schomaker, and Diane Williams, the group show runs the gamut from photography to neon, from sculptural to video, from paintings to miniature assemblages. Participating artists include Ajuan Mance, Cintia Segovia, Dwora Fried, Edi Dai, Emily Wiseman, Erin Adams, Jane Szabo, Kim Abeles, Kio Griffith, Linda Sue Price, Marjan Vayghan, Narsiso Martinez, Richard Wilks, Rick Dallago, Robbie Conal, Scott Froschauer, Terri Lloyd, Vincent Tomczyk, and Yasmine Diaz.
As a reaction to the outrage so many felt following the 2016 election, and before and after the presidential inauguration, the exhibition captures the zeitgeist of anxiety, but also the strong push for a different, better future. Dealing with topics from patriarchal dominance to the widening polarization in today’s America, and our unfortunate obsessions with the culture of money, guns, and branded images, the exhibition features strong works that transcend their political theme. Art is a powerful weapon, it is also a thing of insight and beauty.
You can see this in Linda Sue Price’s red-dominated neon, with its poetic request that we “Question…Listen…Think.” A softly abstract neon center focuses the eye, and stills for a moment the buzz of minds still revving in overtime with dismay over the election. Her mixed media neon sculptures are designed using free-form bent, unique abstract shapes. Here she creates a glowing visual texture that reflects the neon itself.
Rick Dallago’s beautifully drawn “Humpty Trumpty” has the grace and detail of a fairy tale illustration. Dallago’s background includes fine art photography and film-making, and this work blends photography, painting, and storytelling with a strong seam of humor.
Edi Dai’s mixed-media “Mothers” is a stunning large-scale work that simply and evocatively shows a lovely brown-skinned woman in sunglasses; her profile determined, eyes obscured behind sunglasses. She is every woman. She is the birth of something new.
Jane Szabo’s photography is a personal narrative that blends sculpture and installation art through photography – and fashion. Szabo’s series of images of dresses are not any ordinary style statement. Her dresses are constructs, evocative artworks. Here, money is the medium of which this photographed dress is made, with panty hose hung on either side like a chorus of dancers ready to support their leading lady. On the floor, pennies are stacked and strewn. Rarely has our collective obsession with money as power been more alluring.
Emily Wiseman exhibits two pieces from her latest collection, “Powerful.” Working with deconstructed men’s suits, here Wiseman has reduced the suits to the crotch area and framed this section as if it shaped a portrait. The unzipped flies hold other objects; viewers can even insert their own.
Narsiso Martinez creates beautifully rendered subjects on an unusual canvas: old fruit and vegetable boxes laid flat. The boxes make a salient backdrop for his depictions of migrant workers and the immigrant experience. They add a deeper visual as well as conceptual texture to his astonishing work.
Kio Griffith creates a deconstructed flag of foil and jagged wood with white paint. We witness a dystopian version of an American emblem that seems especially apt in today’s politics-not-as-usual climate.
The show overall is cohesive and strong, from Dwora Fried’s perfect assemblages “3 Gun Control” and “7 Ghosts” to Robbie Conal’s just-about-iconic Trump poster.
Yes, both love and art trump Trump.
Brainworks Gallery is located at 5364 W. Pico Blvd. The show is on view until the 25th; on the 18th, at 11 a.m. the gallery will host a conversation about the country’s current state of the union with Performance Artist Marjan Vayghan.