Monday, April 20, 2015

Just Thinking Out Loud

"Have a Bandit Day," Avril Thurman

"The Vocabulary of Carpet," Steve Paddack
 
Bill installed “Any Given Day:  New Works by Steve Paddack and Avril Thurman” at Thunder-Sky, Inc. yesterday.  I went in and helped a little, brought him something to eat.  You can’t really be there with him too long when he hangs art – you just get in the way.  I helped a little with ordering the show, but the way Steve and Avril’s works just kind of fell into place was magic to behold.  (By the way, “Any Given Day: New Works by Steve Paddack and Avril Thurman,” opens with a reception 6 to 10 pm April 24, 2015. The exhibit closes June 12, 2015.)
 
Steve is an artist we met back in the day at 431 Gallery in Indianapolis, and his vibrant, unnerving works have a distilled, ghostly quality.  Witnessing each vignette you feel like you’ve fallen into a spaceship-museum that travels across the American landscape sucking in dream-like moments and then framing them and installing them on spaceship walls.  There’s something dangerous and ominous looming in Steve’s universe, a gigantic invisible snake maybe or brain at the bottom of a lake, but also that Surrealistic danger has a calm seductive veneer that makes you feel almost nostalgic both for danger and for the quiet right before the gloom becomes a strike.  His sense of color has a vibrant, phosphorescent heat to it, cooled by the exactitude of his rendering, the strictness of his lines.  His paintings are lush, droll exercises in luxury and also in the opposite of luxury, as if you're wasting an afternoon staring into space and then suddenly realize you've discovered Heaven.
 
Through a surreptitious system of codes and odd materials that blossom into visual and sometimes disturbing poetry, Avril’s language/object assemblages find strangeness in the everyday, and an everyday-ness in the strange.   They label the absurd and then somehow transform that absurdity into profundity, without losing that initial sense of contradiction.  Her chunky words and clunky materials function like doodles and tags transforming into important corporate logos for corporations ran by crazy geniuses currently setting up shop in tree-houses all over America.  She writes poems that seem to occupy that nether region between abstract and concrete, as if William Carlos Williams’s little red wheelbarrow has suddenly pushed itself into reality, and there you are stuck with it and its strange new voice. 
 
While Steve primarily deals with imagery and Avril with language, their works intermingle in ways you have to see to believe, and “belief” might be a key to what both they are striving for – that sense of the outside world being pulled into the interior for both inspection and worship.  They have a similar sense of dexterity; both artists know when to quit, never trying too hard.  Their works speak volumes without screaming or even whispering.  Just thinking out loud.  It truly is a pleasure to see such disparate approaches finding ways to coexist without elaboration or discourse, just being there together, all weird and alive.
 
A graduate of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Steve has been a working artist for over 30 years. Thurman is a graduate of the Art Academy in Cincinnati.  We’re happy to host their visions.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lime Aid



Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Charity creates a multitude of sins."  One of these charity-created sins happened on Twitter this past week, when Gwyneth Paltrow showed off her expertise at being poor in order to win a contest to raise awareness on how much money and smarts it takes to be a gourmand using a SNAP card.  Turns out, Gwyneth wasn't as snappy as she'd thought she could be (she wound up being three days short on her week of kindness), but the snarling trolling masses sure gave it to her and then some.  I happen to be one of the snarling trolls, so this post isn't going to be about how "we should give sweet Gwyneth a break!  I mean, even when she's trying to do something good people destroy her!"

I'm thinking the "doing good" part is exactly what she needs to be snarled at for.

The decorous, glamorous charity industry for which Gwyneth might be the poster child is a machine like any other machine, and while it is obviously necessary it usually (like Gwyneth) does not get the job done, "the job" being solving problems like poverty, hunger, fill in the blank.  It's an ongoing  saga.  We raise awareness, get aware, have a charity ball, do a charity stunt, raise some cash, and it's all still there, right?  Poverty, disease, hunger.  Charity becomes a part of the process, not a solution, just another box to check, and part of that sense of complacency is only aided and abetted by the Paltrows of the world, who seem to think a glossy take on something as serious as not having enough to eat is a sort of tricky little parlor game to play, to Instagram, to tweet, and then  now move on to the next issue, next trend, next product. 

I know it's like I'm gluttonously unloading on Gwyneth but I'm pretty sure she doesn't give a shit.    And I'm also pretty sure that she's genuinely decent, but also impossibly arrogant and privileged to the point she felt she could shed light on a big problem by doing something stupidly small and then taking a picture of it with her I-Phone.  Look at that mess up there, those goddamn limes.  It just infuriates me because even if she did get the hunger thing right, what would that do?  Would the food-stamp issue be solved?  Would we be closer to Utopia?

What that silly cornucopia up there is about is Gwyneth, not hunger, not awareness.  At the end of the day it's just another form of her ongoing branding campaign.  Gwyneth as green goddess.  Gwyneth, Queen of the Limes.  Her esoteric take on something as bluntly obvious as not having enough food-stamps is so horrible because it perverts the situation to the point that you stop giving a shit about the whole thing.  She has done the exact opposite of raising awareness.  She raised a big stink and now nobody wants to know.      

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Storybook

 
 
"Now Here:  Theoretical Landscapes" is a show currently up at the Carnegie in Covington, Kentucky, curated by Matt Distel.  It opened on Friday, and I'm telling you what, it was a blast, lots of people, lots of art...  Just great.  Matt pulled together such a disparate collection of works that it's hard to figure out what makes the show so fantastic, outside of the fact that the inclusiveness inherent in the curatorial decisions expands ideas instead of claiming them.  "Theoretical" and "landscapes" are both loaded little terms that could have backfired pretty easily.  They evoke a starchiness somehow, a staid attention to what "art" is supposed to be, and yet every choice Matt makes in "Now Here" overturns that sense of preciousness.  It's a 6- or 7-ring circus, this show, and in a totally good way.  (One of the highlights, of course from my POV, is Bill's suite of Alice-inspired works/collaborations with Meddling with Nature's Jeremy Johnson, Sharon Butler and Bob Scheadler, a horrifyingly joyous set-piece comprised of his Technicolor paintings, a dead dryer, dead leaves and dead animals that comes off like a fever-dream/nightmare but also invokes the sad innocence of abandoned amusement parks.)   
 
Matt has created a weirdly cohesive, poetic plurality in "Now Here" by assembling all these artists and all these works made from every media you could think of (including duct-tape, the aforementioned taxidermy, cardboard, and cement, just to name a few, as well as the old oil and acrylic standbys), and when you walk through the whole shebang you feel as if your brain-space is being expanded so that all this cool stuff can get in.  Then you remember the topic (landscapes, theory, the now and the here) and you get the joke, while also understanding the serious and beautiful punch-line each piece evokes.  It's like Matt is taking you on a hot-air balloon ride over a little subdivision called The Land of Art, effortlessly educational, a little elevated, but totally storybook sweet, even while grounded in exactly what it is. 
 
And speaking of sweet, at least for me, I got to hang out with Kathy Brannigan, one of the artists (along with Krista Gregory and Jamie Muenzer) who were a part of a wall drawing escapade that truly feels magically delicious.  Kathy's drawings of airplanes and spaceships anchor the exercise, beautifully smudged graphite depictions that somehow feel both nervous and stately, like doodles done in a boardroom.  Glitter and geometric flourishes play back-up singers to these intimate aerospace drawings.  Somehow the whole enterprise feels like a microcosm of the rest of the show:  astute, wide open, frenetic, but also friendly, aligned, and just plain pretty.  Kathy (pictured above next to some of her graphite hieroglyphics) was one of the first artists Bill and I ran across when we started pulling together Visionaries + Voices years back, and she still hangs out there, but Friday night she was a part of a whole new landscape:  an astronaut finding a wonderfully temporary home.
        

(Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)

 
 
At the end of the day, I don't think I can love pop music more than I love Chic's oeuvre, circa late 70s, when disco was booming and then when disco was chased down and stomped on in a baseball stadium, rolled over by steamrollers, set on fire, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Remember those idiots in back in day at Comiskey Park in Chicago?  "Disco sucks" t-shirts and a racist/homophobic nastiness thinly veiled in pride of country, pride of Bob Seger.  In fact, one of Chic's most significant and ferocious hits, "Good Times," made it to Number One during that whole bull-shit "Disco Sucks" era.  The power of that song, and all the songs Chic produced and played from 1976 (when Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards first formed the band) to 1980, comes from an intentional hard-won joy that bursts forth and hardens into silvery passion.  Their songs ARE the dance-floor, the lights, the satiny clothes and smoky eyes, the extravagant furs and jewels and high heels.  The attitude and the sophistication comes from a spied-on elegance inside each song, a knowingness that glamor is a planet you'll never get to, but it sure is fun pretending you are already there.  Take, for example, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," a song so infectious and crazy-happy you can't help but understand what it means to lose it all in the name of having a good time; that is the key to all their music actually, a strange glorious abandon constructed on top of reality, so buoyant and skillfully manufactured you can get rid of all else.  "Dance, Dance, Dance" was one of the first singles I ever bought, and I listened to that thing in my little white-trash nowhere bedroom over and over, trying to figure out all kinds of things, and yet also that song is a lullaby to people like me (like us), star-gazers, freaks, feelers of deep feelings and yet also in on a joke we just can't explain, can't find the punch-line to.  Chic uncovers that secret but the secret is simply three words, followed by three words in parentheses:  "Dance" to the third power, and "Yowsah" to the third power as well.  "Yowsah," by the way, means "wow."   
 
From 1978 (the year I turned 13), "Le Freak" spilled forth like an angry anthem, which it was.  Grace Jones invited Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards to Studio 54 one night, and the pissy little disco-gatekeepers would not let them in.  So they went back to their apartment and banged out a tune with the refrain "Fuck off."  To be more radio-friendly, they capsized the cursing and came up with the Frenchified "Le Freak."  Still you can feel a punkishness inside that disco swell, a pissed-off grandeur that outshines itself to the point you can feel yourself dancing and stomping until both become the same thing:   love and hate combine into a new and gorgeous enterprise. 
 
That's Chic's true legacy, that sense of transcending the world through disco and at the same time understanding the predicament of never being able to escape who you are and what the world can do to you.  What they accomplished in a few years echoed in all kinds of ways musically, including Nile-Rogers-produced epics by David Bowie, Madonna, B-52s, and so on, but also I think they were instrumental in developing an attitude inside cultures that thrive outside of the Main One.  Their music, joyful and polished and honed to glitter and a little guile, powered by a knowingness and worldliness, has survived because it needed to, a soundtrack to all kinds of struggles never mentioned but completely and truly felt.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Help Me I Think I'm Falling

 
 
A few weeks back on a snowy Saturday afternoon Bill and I had a cocktail or two and listened to Joni Mitchell's Love Has Many Faces, a compilation of her music fashioned into a quartet of CDs.  Each suite of songs, or "acts," as she calls them, is titled and juxtaposes songs from all of the albums she's ever made.  It was a breathtaking experience.  Snow deepening, Joni's voice traveling through time, and a little vodka to wash it into perspective:  Joni from the early 70s, trilling and silvery and triumphant, melodic to the point of otherworldliness, all the way through the late 70s and 80s, when she's getting world-weary and the voice is thickening, turning plush, cigarette-jazzy, to the two albums she did in 2000 and 2002 in which she covers classic pop tunes, along with many of her own, backed up by a lush orchestra, the voice voluptuously what it is, husky, full, ready to dream.  There's no reason to the way she pulls songs side by side, except in her own head, which makes the whole endeavor beautifully random and yet somehow super-concentrated and very, very pleasurable.  You're inside Joni Mitchell's mind, feeling her feelings, and also basking in her glow, a light so warm and brilliant you're kind of in the presence of a god, or goddess, or whatever.  It's the music, though, that sends it all the way over:  subtle and rich and blatant when it needs to be, and the words, chronicling her love of travel and shady men and all the friends and family she leaves behind on many hejiras, only to feel more connected with them once she makes the split.  You need to hear all 4 quartets to really get it, as well.  There's a hardback book housing the CDs, with a long, personal essay by Joni that is self-indulgent and kind of silly, just the way it should be.  She goes through the list of songs one by one, explaining their meaning and polish and joy, but all you really need is the songs, and I think she knows that.  She has to.  Almost 50 years of making music has given Joni a luster and a swagger you can't make up, only earn.  She's the ying to Dylan's yang.  And Love Has Many Faces is a Bible for anybody who yearns to examine what it all means and what it does to you when you realize you can't figure it out.
   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"The Master of Loyalty Is in the Gallery Tonight"

Antonio Adams, "Unrealized and Unforeseen Day," acrylic on canvas, 2012.


Antonio Adams, Cedric Michael Cox, and Artworks apprentices, "Raymond Thunder-Sky Mural," on the outside of Visionaries + Voices, finished 2009. 


Antonio Adams, "There's a Circus on the Corner of the Streets," marker on large copy of an unfinished Raymond Thunder-Sky drawing, 2010.  In the collection of the Museum of Everything, London, England. 


Antonio Adams, "The Master of Loyalty Is in the Gallery Tonight," marker on paper, 2012 


Antonio Adams teaching a class at Miami University, 2012. 


Raymond Thunder-Sky Polaroid, with clowns, date unknown. 




Raymond Thunder-Sky, "Wrecker Tear Down Old Middletown Nursing Home," marker on cardstock, date unknown.


I wrote the essay below a couple years back for a show at Thunder-Sky, Inc., but I forgot to use it. Found the doc in an old email file.  It's all about Antonio and Raymond, and everything.  These photos were in the same file.  I think I was going to do a little booklet or something, but it seems like a really good blogpost too...  


Antonio Adams wears an elaborate costume to every art opening he attends. Made from felt, glitter, and fabric paint. Antonio calls it his “Art Thing Kingdom Master” attire. A triangular facemask shields the bottom of his face, and on his head he wears a crown. Antonio features himself in this costume in many of his drawings and paintings as well – most significantly in one of his latest works, “Unrealized and Unforeseen Day,” a large 5’ X 4’ acrylic-on-canvas. In this vibrant, rigorous painting, Antonio as the Art Thing Kingdom Master presides over a crowd of “regular people” being summarily transformed into heavenly celebrities, while the “bad celebrities” scale the brick walls surrounding a majestic stage with tears burning in their eyes, unable to get into the Kingdom.

If “Unrealized and Unforeseen Day” is a revelatory moment for Antonio, it’s because since 1999, when he was a lonely depressed high school student with a learning disability, he has been diligently building a visual and moral philosophy that has sustained him through a lot of stress and strife, including the untimely death of his mentor and friend, Raymond Thunder-Sky.

Raymond was a fixture of downtown Cincinnati street-culture for over 20 years before Bill Ross (my partner and co-founder of Thunder-Sky, Inc., the art gallery we run in Raymond’s name) found out he was secretively making incredible drawings in 1999. A social-worker assigned to help Raymond toward the end of his life, Bill at first was taken aback by Raymond. A Native American whose father Richard Bright-fire Thunder-Sky had been a Mohawk chief and a Hollywood actor in the 1940s, Raymond was known as the Construction Clown by those who would see him walking down city streets in a construction-worker/clown costume, a huge toolbox in tow. He spent much of his time traveling to, and drawing, buildings being demolished at sites all over town. At a meeting one day held to discuss Raymond’s deteriorating health, Raymond pulled out a stack of drawings from one of his toolboxes. Bill was flabbergasted.

Raymond’s drawings are done mostly in pencil and magic-marker, and depict buildings being torn down and replaced by imaginary facilities with titles like Clown Suit Factories and Card Trick Amusement Parks. Each drawing is organized straightforwardly, with imagery of construction and demolition festooned with a few lines of narration in a careful script. In one archetypal drawing, a movie theatre is gutted, with a wrecking ball suspended above the wreckage, a nearby caption reading: “Last showing at Old Valentine Theatre in Downtown Toledo Will Being Torn Down to Clearing Way for New Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus Store.” (The whole archive of Raymond’s 2200+ drawings can be seen at www.raymondthundersky.org.)

A few months after meeting Raymond, Bill and I met Antonio. At the time, Antonio was 19 and barely speaking. Bullied at his high school, he took comfort in creating art as a way to endure isolation. At the time, he was making cat sculptures from pieces of wood he’d find. His bedroom was overflowing with them. We introduced Raymond and Antonio in 2000 at Base Gallery in downtown Cincinnati, where we were pulling together an exhibit. Antonio writes about that day, in a caption to a drawing he made commemorating the occasion: “That first time am met Raymond Thunder-Sky at Base Art Gallery he was a Native American outsider self-taught artist of clown-construction-worker. He usually very shy but he also hysterically of sitcom person.”

As their relationship grew Raymond became the prime inspiration that would guide Antonio’s life, imagination, and art. In 2001 Antonio and Raymond were featured in the show we curated at Base, titled “Art Thing.” (The title came from an object Antonio had made, a tiny kelly-green felt pillow on which Antonio had written “Art Thing” in white fabric paint.) One of the first exhibits featuring local outsider artists, the show was packed and many works sold. After this success, Antonio and Raymond also showed their works at the Pittsburgh Folk Art Festival in 2002, the Outsider Art Fair in New York City (2003), and several other regional and national auctions and art fairs.

In 2003, when Bill and I helped to open a studio for artists with disabilities called Visionaries and Voices (www.visionariesandvoices.com), Antonio and Raymond were the first artists through the door. I can still picture that day, a very clear and tender image: Raymond in a hardhat and clown costume, and Antonio in a t-shirt and jeans, sitting next to each other at a folding table, working on their own drawings, using pencils and markers from a shared coffee-can. A few years later, Antonio, along with artist Cedric Michael Cox and teenaged students involved in a summer art-making program called Artworks, painted a mural on the side of the building that currently houses Visionaries and Voices (now a full-fledged service organization supporting over 140 artists with disabilities in a week-day program). The mural stretches across a large expanse of the building, and features a gigantic Raymond in full Construction Clown regalia, a crane hurling a wrecking ball into a building behind him.

On October 29, 2004 Raymond passed away from complications of liver cancer. The day of Raymond’s funeral, Antonio had a large, scrolled piece of paper with him at the gravesite. The service was reminiscent of Raymond’s beautiful strangeness: a Shriner’s clown read the “Clown’s Prayer” aloud (we came to find out that whenever a Shriner’s clown passes away, they have the Clown’s Prayer read at their funeral), and then an honorary member of the Sheyenne tribe oversaw a sage burning ritual. He spoke about Raymond’s spirit being scattered to the four winds.

After the service, Antonio came over to Bill and me, and unraveled the scroll to show us he had drawn a hysterically funny yet vividly poignant back-story for Raymond. The resulting work of art resembles a heady, Byzantine graphic novel with funky, evangelical flourishes – Antonio well on his way to merging his imagination with Raymond’s. Throughout the piece, Antonio narrates and illustrates key semi-fictionalized moments in Raymond’s life. Each moment is titled with a year, as in, “1950: Raymond born when he was a baby.” The image that goes along with the text is of an infant Raymond, swaddled in his mother’s arms. “In 1964,” according to Antonio’s timeline, “Raymond’s dad Richard Bright-Fire Thunder-Sky and Raymond are dancing to the music of the 60s.” An adolescent Raymond (with a sort of Antonio-styled afro/pompadour) dances with his tall and regal father. In 1973, Raymond is “having a shy moment with the hippies.” Antonio’s depiction of Raymond’s death: “Raymond in Heaven with God. Raymond die for cancer, Friday October 29 2004. What a sad day.” The image is Raymond with his toolbox standing beside a large Christ figure, like brothers reuniting at a celestial barbecue.

Antonio eventually appropriated the “four winds” metaphor from Raymond’s graveside service to create a suite of nine 2’ X 2’ wood-panel portrait paintings, with Raymond’s portrait at the center of them. Embellished in loud circus-neon stripes, each painting pays tribute to the people in Raymond’s life who were instrumental in showing and celebrating the art he made while he was still alive. Directly above Raymond’s portrait is a self-portrait, Antonio in full “Art Thing Kingdom Master” regalia, a direct descendent or possibly even prodigal son. The costume first came into being right after Raymond’s death in 2004, and over years evolved into the blend of superhero kitsch and Samurai finery it is today. The evolution, like all of Antonio’s art, is hyper-intentional. Antonio uses the costume as a reminder of Raymond’s status both as artist and as spectacle.

The “Four Winds” suite of paintings was created for the opening of the art gallery we established in Raymond’s name, Thunder-Sky, Inc. in 2009. Antonio is currently the permanent Artist-in-Residence at Thunder-Sky, Inc., and curates exhibits, as well as oversees an art-making workshop every Saturday in the basement of the gallery.

Of the 2200+ drawings Raymond left behind, about 500 of them were never completed. In 2011, as part of an exhibit at Thunder-Sky, Inc., Antonio picked four of his favorites. We had prints made of them on large pieces of paper. In six months, Antonio merged the unfinished remains of Raymond’s art with his own rich, allegorical consciousness. In each piece, Raymond is depicted as a mischievous god overseeing the destruction of the old world and welcoming in the new. Or in Antonio’s words, “The one and only construction clown who taking over the demolition.” Straddling a crane and smiling gleefully with angel wings sprouting from his clown-suit, Raymond is now, in Antonio’s universe, a sort of go-to spirit, a prophet he can consult with. All four of these drawings are now in the permanent collection of James Brett’s Museum of Everything in London, England.

August 29, 2012, Antonio’s one-man show at Thunder-Sky, Inc., “Unrealized and Unforeseen,” opened. Antonio choreographed the whole reception, giving us a list of foods, people he wanted to invite, as well as a very structured layout of where each painting, drawing, photograph and sculpture should be installed in the space. The result felt as if we had been given access into Antonio’s brain, a territory of vivid colorful landscapes, stringent common-sense rules, and a penchant for tragedy and comedy blending into absurdity and bliss. He had been working on the concept for over a year, creating an epic portfolio of artworks in which famous “bad” celebrities (including Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen) get “unrealized” (meaning returned to non-celebrity status), while unfamous folks (people Adams has selected from his everyday life) become major celebrities in his own personal cosmos. In the same way Raymond appropriated construction/demolition tropes for his aesthetic purposes, Antonio uses tabloid stories and reality-TV as a framework to tell his own story in each of the “Unrealized and Unforeseen” works, culminating in his to-date masterpiece, “Unrealized and Unforeseen Day.” In transforming universal gossip into personal gossamer, Antonio has reinforced a vision and morality that has been in all of his work since Bill and I first met him. It is a message of epic transformation, imagination trumping rational thought in the pursuit of truths no one is ready for. In “Unrealized and Unforeseen Day,” the message is clear: no matter whom you think you are, you’re still like everyone else, and that subjugation is your freedom, your chance at grace. On the right side of the painting, where the canvas curves over the stretcher bar, Antonio has painted a blue, translucent rendition of Raymond smiling in the periphery – always there, quiet and calm, like an angel sanely orbiting and overseeing his world.


Born in Cincinnati in 1981, Antonio Adams has been drawing, painting and creating since he was a little boy. Now his work is exhibited and collected nationally.  He is one of the co-founders of Visionaries & Voices, an arts organization for artists with disabilities in Cincinnati, as well as Thunder-Sky, Inc., an art gallery also in Cincinnati.  His sculptures, paintings and drawings have been featured at White Columns Gallery in New York City, The Outsider Art Fair (New York City), The Contemporary Art Center (Cincinnati), The Cincinnati Art Museum, Base Gallery, Visionaries + Voices, the Pittsburgh Folk Art Exhibit and Symposium, Middletown (Ohio) Fine Arts Center, Fitton Center for Creative Arts (Hamilton, Ohio), University of Cincinnati Gallery, Kennedy Heights Arts Center (Cincinnati), Country Club Gallery (Cincinnati and Los Angeles), and In the Gallery (Nashville, Tennessee). His art was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Everything in London, England.  He has an upcoming exhibit at the Westin Gallery in Cincinnati in November 2015.   

Monday, February 16, 2015

Writing on Mirrors

Vincent Gray

Dale Jackson's calligraphy on a mirror reflecting Ricky Walker's drawings and Patricia Murphy's sculpture.

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Vincent Gray

Vincent Gray

Signage

Dale Jackson

Ricky Walker

Ricky Walker and Patricia Murphy

Ricky Walker
 
I had this idea to ask Dale Jackson to write on mirrors about a year ago, for a show still unnamed.  Dale's work is about writing down segments of language on any surface he can find (usually paper, but sometimes shoes, other objects, wood, etc.), words and phrases that don't interrelate as much as disintegrate, flowing and disappearing into the ether the way living life does.  It's as if he's writing verses for his own unique invisible Bible, imposing a very structured sense on nonsense, and providing a way to reiterate and reinterpet one of my favorite actual Bible verses, Ephesians 1:2:  "'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'" 
 
So Dale obliged.  On six mirror tiles, he wrote what he writes and it's somehow both magical and jarring when you see it in the gallery.  His words imposed over a reflection of a reality that has no end, no focal point, just silvery and obligatory scenery.  Black Sharpee sharpness across all that is there, sort of cinematic, sort of like midair doodling, sort of like a conversation freezing into calligraphy across the space caused by dialogue. 
 
Those mirrors vacuum in the space.  Saturday, while Bill hung Ricky's repetitive, gorgeous-Crayola drawings, I watched them appear one by one in the marked-up mirrors on the wall, and it all somehow made total sense.  Then across the gallery is Vincent's Pointillist masterpieces of boxers boxing, a whole neighborhood of disenfranchised people holding their hands up, the flashy eyelids of Diana Ross.  And in the middle of the floor, Patricia's oddly shaped little figments, geometrical clouds turning into Kafka bricks, 1970s album covers for Electric Light Orchestra, resplendent with half-dead houseplants and a beautifully restricted sense of whimsy. 
 
This show called "Makeshift" keeps flashing in my head like a book of poems I read when I was in high school and only now can understand.  It's a bunch of blocked-out, accidental haikus and villanelles, a suite of works you can't solve a puzzle with, and yet when you see all of their works stationed in one room it seems somehow predetermined, makeshift in a totally wonderful way.
 
I know, I know.  I keep going on and on.  But I think it's taken me about 15 years to understand this is what I want art shows to look like.
 
February 28, 2015 "Makeshift:  New Works by Vincent Gray, Dale Jackson, Patricia Murphy, and Ricky Walker" opens with a reception 6 to 10 pm.