Birth, Death, & Mr. Snuggles: Four Unique Shows at the Armory Center For The Arts
Through June 10th
Armory Center for The Arts, Pasadena, CA.
By Patrick Quinn
Over the past decade, the Pasadena Armory and Head Curator Irene Tsatsos has consistently mounted exhibitions that are both challenging and rewarding. The four shows currently on display continue that trend. Each exhibit explores aspects of birth and death in a darkly whimsical fashion that invokes a variety of emotions. The visitor who is able to spend some time with each of the four shows will be richly rewarded.
The main exhibition hall is taken up with one large installation. Created by Diane Christiansen and Jeanne Dunning, Birth Death Breath is an opera ‘performed’ by inflatable lawn decorations. The artists have stated that “as the various characters rise from ground and begin to sing they experience their inflation as a kind of coming back to life, prompting them to ponder great existential questions about life, death, purpose, and meaning through their songs.”
There are three acts and the audience moves from one group of inflatable figures to the next. Small speakers inside the figures ‘sing’ the delicate choral music written and sung by the two artists. First one figure begins to inflate, than the others slowly follow. Once the song is done, the figures begin to slowly deflate. One can’t help but think of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, miserable as she slowly melts away. The overall effect of Birth Death Breath is charming, a little creepy, and rather sad.
Up in the Mezzanine Gallery West is an exhibit of new work by the artist Laub. The show is ambitious, as is the show’s title: the act of dying upon one’s self and other remnants of a birth. It’s an eclectic mixture of sculpture, ceramics, found objects, and paintings. In this show, death is seen as “fragmented manifestations of loss”. There is a lot of work packed into a fairly small space which allows for moments of light humor and alongside the somber retrospection.
Piano performances by Laub will accompany the show at 7:00pm on April 8, May 13, & June 3rd.
Artist Jennifer Moon is in the Mezzanine Gallery West as part of the Armory’s year-long series entitled 3Rs: Reflection, Rejuvenation, Revolution. The artist is presenting a new video work that has an interesting inspiration, the animated Disney film Moana.
“A Breach in the Realm of Beliefs offers a sincere attempt to retrieve lost faith by re-orienting and repurposing Disney’s commodification of feel-good inspirations music to install an emotional call to revolution that cannot be silenced.”
The staircase that leads to the Mezzanine offers a collaboration between artists Laub and Jennifer Moon. Mr. Snuggles FOREVER is a series of pictorial tapestries that line the two walls of the staircase. Mr. Snuggles was Jennifer Moon’s dog that passed away. The installation is a celebration of the life, death, and afterlife of Mr. Snuggles who makes his heavenly presence known as an articulated skeletal structure that hangs suspended above.
Mr. Snuggles FOREVER as well as the other three shows are on view through till June 10th.
Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, California 91103
Gallery Hours: 12 to 5pm (closed Tuesdays)