Sunday, March 28, 2010
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As galleries come and go these days in Indianapolis, it’s nice to discover the different ways in which artists reinvent the methods of exposing their art to the community. One type of space worth mentioning is the home.
Home spaces are usually interesting because they contain other art and non-art objects that relate or give an eclectic feel to the displayed artwork. The homeowner also influences the viewer’s perspective by providing the comfort of a lived-in space.
On March 20th, a residency on East Ohio Street presented a one night viewing of “A Different Kind of Home Show”, an exhibition of mixed media artworks by Justin Cooper and Mike Graves of the BRIDGE Collective.
Covering the inside, upstairs and downstairs walls of the home were a collection of Cooper and Graves’ artworks from the past eight years. Fittingly titled, the paintings tied together a stream of socially conscious artwork rather than aiming to perpetuate a pure, aesthetically pleasing space.
Each artwork in the show was either done exclusively by each artist, or created through collective efforts of both artists together. The collaborative process and individual efforts of both artists result in a blurring of subject matter and interests in which neither artist can, nor needs to be identified as much as the expression and message of the work becomes the forefront and focus.
The BRIDGE Collective is a group that seeks to make meaning through expressive/ experimental art, ideas, and materials. In this thread of works, there is a social commentary and commitment to which the artists are truth-tellers in an abstract and playful manner. Graphic-style images mixed in with surreal forms and existences provide a statement of intent in which perceptions are not always ‘seeing is believing’.
Using materials unconventionally is a strong commonality between Cooper and Graves. Graves has always used media manipulation to constantly refresh his skills and challenge himself. Cooper has expressed his desire for learning how materials interact with one another as a personal pursuit since he was not able to gain the knowledge and experience from local college level art school.
Many of the paintings in this exhibition, influenced by comic book characters, are shiny-coated in an idealistic manner giving props and acclaim to the powers of the subjects portrayed. The triptych in the front room successively titled “Storm”, ‘”You’re a Liar”, and “It’s Only Water’” is a compilation of superhero images and dialogue. The main character spouts, “Aren’t there times you wish you were ‘Normal’….No. Not for a Moment. Not Once.” Fantasy and reality are meshed between the entertainment of a comic book and the reality of every day life.
The messages in each artwork create an awareness of varied realities through viewpoints, words, and images that blend and separate truth. In an artwork by Graves, titled “Ronin’s Abilities”, the character Ronin is painted over church sheet music implying that the strength of a comic book character is as mystical and empowering as the church itself.
Another artwork titled “Old Couple” displays a picture of the Egyptian greywacke sculpture “King Menkure and Wife Khamerernebty”. Khamerernebty is next to her husband, Menkure, one arm encircling his waist and the other hand touching his arm in a solid and confident manner as they stand firmly together. This artifact from art history and its new title makes for a lengthy discussion on the values of marriage and relationships in the 21th century. There is beauty in the multiple meanings found in this artwork.
While some artworks were animated, other works by Cooper featured more natural subject matter. Animal portraits of a frog, red panda, and dog were painted over a patterned background. Cooper suggests that the way in which animals were once hidden by their environment through patterning, are now clearly apparent, exposed, and subjected to the maze in which they now live.
The home show included other bits and pieces of Cooper and Graves’ artwork. On the entry way table a postcard book filled with Graves’ paintings including his erotic series were available for sale for $25. Cooper also had a self-designed business card for the taking.
The BRIDGE Collective combines the expressive endeavors of many different artists in the community. The home show was just a sample of the collective’s projects and activities. For more information contact Shannon Wilson at (317) 362-8104 or firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.BRIDGECollective.org.
Photo submitted by Shannon Wilson