Saturday, September 13, 2008

Many reasons to love 'three hundred six'

The three hundred six show that opened last night at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary (and hangs until Oct. 11) pairs eight St. Louis artists with eight artists from Chicago. The title of the show cleverly is taken from MapQuest's count of the miles between the domiciles of the two curators, our own Michael Behle and Chicagoland's Stacie Johnson, who met at an artists' residence in Vermont.

The range of approaches taken by the artists in the show is wide and satisfying, everything from atmospheric micropaintings of fingernail polish on plexiglass (by Jason Hoeing), to pop art sculpture in resin-coated foam (by Ben Stone), to figurative paintings of men doing identifiable things (by Jesse Thomas), to deranged, gunslinging video art (by Nosey Parker) to kick-ass trad. cross-stitching (by Loo Bain), to conceptual art in the key of cyclonic bitchfest (by Heather Corley).

Like most of humanity, I don't have any money to spend on art these days, however fairly priced it may be (as these pieces are). Though it's fun to windowshop.

If I had $275 to spend, I would have put a red dot by a Jason Hoeing micropainting, probably one of the violent ones, either "Congolese Crash" or "Mail carrier shot, south city," though all six of his tiny pieces in the show are delightful.

If I had $675 to spend, I would have procured William Staples' "Figure in doorway (after Velazquez), a sly oil painting on linen with a cutout that reveals a mirror. His other piece in the show, "View of studio from kitchen," takes a similarly playful approach to cutouts and materials.

I'll never have $2,500 to spend on a piece of art, but Loo Bain's meticulous cross-stitch untitled portrait of a snake coiled around rabbit prey is worth that much. Ditto for the $4,500 Catherine Magel is asking for her large (58" by 62") gouache on paper piece "Scuba Bunny Sonata," which is every bit as fun as its title - it looks like Firecracker Press meets tropical beach volleyball game.

If I had all that money, it so happens I would have supported two St. Louis artists (Hoeing, Magel) and two Chicago artists (Staples, Bain). That is as it should be.

Now, a few comments about a few pieces listed as "price on request."

Elizabeth Ferry has made a perceptive comment on the dynamics of anticipation and familiarization, by constructing an enormous, gaudy, tricked-out mixed-media piece titled "something to look forward to," followed around the corner by what amounts to a sad little fragment of the former piece, titled "here we go again ..." That speaks much to me about what we imagine and how we experience what we have imagined; how we trick ourselves out of joy.

Heather Corley's conceptual piece "You+me 4 Now" does all that and then some. The piece is an assemblage of "While You Were Out" post-its, each dated and printed with a message, then stuck to the wall with a heart-knobbed stickpin. The messages read like diary entries from anybody's heartbreak and dysfunctional keeping on keeping-on:

1/2. You will never change and neither will I.
5/16. I don't care about anything anymore.
7/16. I can't trust how I feel about you.
8/26. Why don't you go to bed so I can start living.
9/8. You are a complete fucktard.
9/15. I want to poke out your eyes and shove them up your ass.
11/27. I'll move on and you'll still be here.

Clearly, an awful lot happened "while you were out."

And then there are the two apparently untitled videos by Nosey Parker (Robert Goetz and Brett Williams), with two companion vinyl records. One video depicts the ruthless serial destruction of one or more microphones by rifle shot, with interludes where canisters of flammable fluid may or may not be ignited by the same method. (Not sure what is actual fire and what is after-affects in the editing process; not sure I want to know.) The other video appears to be a slow-motion closeup of one microphone getting blown apart, with slow fades that make the piece look like a moving action painting.

Local songwriter and musician Sherman St. Sherman appears in the video with all the gunshots and explosions. Apparently, Nosey Parkey set him up to play a song of his, "I'd Be Better Off Without a Mic," and then used only the setup in the video, not the song. Sherman is filmed saying the title of the song, which has ironic power in a video about the destruction of one or more microphones.

Then Sherman says, "You must be strong, to go it alone," which again has ironic impact in a video saturated with the macho detonation of firearms and firebombs. This is all reduced to absurdity by the closing frame of the video: Sherman folding his shades around the "face" of the propane canister he is carrying.


The artists I like best from this show seem not to be very active self-promoters. Had a hard time finding an image by anyone for an illustration. The piece I used is by a Heather Corley who may or may not be the artist in this show, from somebody's Flickr site.

Call Hoffman LaChance at 314-960-5322 for hours or appointments to see the show.


Print Zero Brian said...

Tis the same Heather Corley.

Here is some more info on her.

Thanks for linking to my flickr page.

Brian Lane
print zero studios

Confluence City said...

Brian, I appreciate it when someone who posts an image to the public is happy to see the public make free use of it!