Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Michael Lynch as puncture artist

Taking a break from the laugh-a-minute that is power politics in a corrupt, faded river town, I now resume coverage of The New Monastic Workshop weekend, working backwards from Sunday night. By now we're up (back) to Sunday morning.

Which I spent on due diligence to our one chore, as working monks. It was a pleasant chore. Brother John Eiler had charged all monks to help curate a set of prints for Brother Michael Lynch.

Michael is a guitarist and visual artist. He made much of his way in the visual arts doing airbrush paintings like the wacky face above. Judging by a quick dash through his old paintings to hang a show in the Eiler basement, Michael mostly connected with custom car culture and alternative comics. (He also once did a fair amount of illustration for the old, Ray Hartmann-era Riverfront Times.)

More recently, he has turned to bizarro collages, crafted from magazine clippings. Michael has assembled more than a dozen workbooks of this stuff, most of them starting with some kind of visual art book, though the underlying, original images have all been transformed beyond recognition. It was our task as working monks to look through all of these workbooks and tag a selection of collages we thought worthy of reproduction. John's idea was to then reproduce a number of these selected collages and sell the prints.

I am sad to report that this idea is offered in the spirit of a fundraiser, since Michael is struggling through cancer with very limited means. The Eilers are the lynchpin of a community effort in their South Grand neighborhood to make this exhausting and painful transition for Michael as comfortable as possible.

So I spent Sunday morning paging through Michael's collages while John grilled salmon. I wasn't sufficiently on the ball to scan any of my selected collages for the world to see here, but I most enjoyed his penchant for visual puns in formal terms. Michael has a great gift for finding the same or similar curves, colors, or relationships in very disparate visual phenomena.

The overall mood of his collage art veers from detached horror at what we are doing to ourselves and the world, to a sly gallows humor. He also likes to puncture one image with another - lots of sharp points breaking on through to the other side of something. In a way, Michael Lynch's collage art is itself one complicated puncture act: he pokes a hole in the world using cast-off images from the garbage of old glossy magazines.

In the spirit of Michael's collage work, I will now puncture this portrait of his art with an unrelated element, some accidental verbal art from a talking head on The Larry King Show chattering away in the next room: "cadaver dog."

They are talking about cadaver dogs and the smell of decomposing tissue.

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