The Candy Store and Something Extra at Shoebox Projects
Chelsea Boxwell, Something Extra in The Closet in Shoebox Projects
Debby and Larry Kline, The Candy Store in Shoebox Projects
By Genie Davis
Two well paired shows – one large, one small – are at Shoebox Projects through July 1st. While very different, they’re both visually terrific summer shows in palette, abloom and alive – with one taking on a substantially weighty, important subject, the other offering pure fun.
In small square footage of The Closet, Chelsea Boxwell’s Something Extra glitters and shines, and offers a kind of subliminal reference to the kind of closet we all wish we had, filled with sparkly things that just might transform us.
Boxwell’s work is the “perfect fit” for the literal closet-sized space she’s working in. The artist, who has said she makes what she wants, decided to “make a sequin-filled closet, because I can.” It’s like stepping into a blue, purple, and fuchsia disco ball fused with Dr. Who’s phone booth. Colored pinpoint lights glitter on the ceiling, soft fabric drapes onto the floor, and just outside the space, a sequined fabric sign points the way to “Something Extra.” The result is pure fun – a tactile, visually pleasing rectangle of shine and color. The lighting is dim, and stepping inside, one has a feeling of being transported someplace else, to a land of dress-up and make-believe, or as Boxwell says, a place where one can “take a minute away from being an ‘adult’ and just bask in something shiny.”
In the main project space, Debby and Larry Kline’s The Candy Store is a shopping trip that’s a lot less sweet than it may appear at the first cursory glance. Self-diagnosis and treatment, the epidemic of prescription medicines that can cause as much harm (or new harm) as good, with the rising costs of healthcare and the poisons which we knowingly or unknowingly consume. There are layers upon layers to this visceral exhibition, which starts with a pharmacy-like counter sporting an all-too-appealing, shiny, lit RX sign in yellow forming the “T” in “Store.”
There are insanely cute teddy bears contained in cigar boxes – made from tobacco. A small, spinning carousel features animals shaped from empty medicine gel caps. These are not the usual ponies and carriages of merry-go-rounds, rather featured are scorpions and snakes. The painted marquee above the ride proclaims “See the Amazing Juggling Klines” with hands depicted juggling fire; in another carousel panel, a monkey smokes a cigarette – both apt metaphors for today’s healthcare system. Furthering the carnival illusion of our medical system, a Ferris wheel spins empty prescription bottle seats. A box of ceramic candies contains traces of commercial grade medication in the colored glazes that make these “treats” appealing. Text on the candy box lid references Vioxx, a dangerous drug removed from the marketplace because of the harm it caused consumers. It’s a potent example of the shiny, oh-so-pretty and cozy relationship between the government agencies theoretically responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals and the makers of these drugs.
Beautifully crafted medicine jars line shelves on one full wall of the space. Like the candies, the containers are glazed with a trace of the medical-grade pharmaceutical with which each is labeled. Every jar is unique: an animal form protrudes from the minty green Acetaminophen, a shiny black crow sits atop the lid of bright red Nexium.
Meanwhile, there are products for sale, too. Beautiful handmade medicine bags, the tobacco bears and you can even purchase ‘The Candy Store” scrubs.
The exhibition looks at the contrast between the over-medicated, privileged insured; the self-medicated uninsured; the corruption of our FDA standards, the commercialization of medicine with the consumer as profit center. And it also examines our own complicity in allowing this “treatment” to thrive.
The collaborative couple have created an astonishing installation work that is both political and beautiful; it is experiential and a passionate protest. Viewers here are participants shopping in this candy store, searching for a cure not just for our own sicknesses, but that of society.
Shoebox Projects is located at 660 South Avenue 21 #3, at the Brewery in DTLA.