Sunday, January 27, 2008
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For those of you out and about this coming First Friday, if you happen to be in the Fountain Square area, you should head on over to see the eye filling installation/studio/exhibition by Mike Lyons at 1651 English Ave. This will be his closing reception so do not miss it.
A couple weeks back, on a cold evening, I made a trip out to Fountain Square to check out an installation by local artist Mike Lyons. Or was it his studio? On the corner of State and English sits a nice little two story building that over the last year or more has been home to a few art shows and installations as the owners continue to search for a buyer. [I love the collaborative nature of this sort of real estate / artist exhibition, grassroots stuff. It keeps things exciting and unexpected.] Exciting and unexpected is what Lyons studio as installation brought forth but not without numerous questions and perhaps few answers. At first glance, looking into the space as the sun has set, the scene is staged with a large monolithic structure centered upon a large step ladder, a tangle of orange extension cords, paintings reminiscent of graffiti and street culture pinned to the walls floor to ceiling, re purposed sections of milled Styrofoam, fragmented drawings, TVs and videos playing on loops, with even more assorted odds and ends. Barely a spot in the space is unfilled (and this is just the front room). In short, I would say that it is this aesthetic some would deem a "Clusterfuck". Ah yes, I have always enjoyed that term and find it perfectly suitable in this context. While I tend to shy away from this sort of aesthetic, I do find that some artists work best in this manner, like the late Jason Rhoades.
Here, Lyons confronts us with the culmination of his artistic practice, the idea of studio practice as art. Here nothing is presented to us as a precious or particularly important. Instead we see fragments of his thought processes, hints of where he is coming from as an artist, be it through his sketches of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes or those of Paul McCarthy's Block Heads. Everything here is in a state of flux and feels it shall always be in such a state. From clay carvings of a rat to an ever changing tangled sculpture pieced together from wooden moldings that run around the backroom like a miniature rollercoster or an elaborate hotwheels fast track. All of this streaming out at you at once and feeling a bit displaced and almost claustrophobic.
Overall, this may be the hardest installation or body of work that I have ever attempted to write about. And the thing about it is this... The more I write and think about the work the more questions it raises for me. Do I like it? I am still unsure, but then again I think it may be irrelevant in this context. This is a look into the Mike Lyons world, his way of thinking and seeing. And as such is beyond contestation. But I will tell you this. There is a lot to see and I would almost guarantee you that there is bound to be something in there for everyone to enjoy. Last I heard, he was in negotiations on purchasing the building. Good Luck Mike.