The Evan Lurie Gallery hosted an impressive sampling of the work of five internationally recognized Pop artists during the May 23 Carmel Gallery Walk.
Incandescent 3-D paintings of slot machines, the work of Burton Morris, popped off the walls, greeting visitors as they walked in through the doors. His iconic paintings of coffee cups, in particular, are instantly recognizable thanks to his artwork’s placement at Central Perk on the set of the now-syndicated Friends sit-com.
Brad Howe’s abstract geometric sculptures, scattered throughout the gallery, seemingly took the oddly shaped dimensions of area calculation problems from an advanced calculus textbook. Said sculptures were painted in brightly colored designs, acknowledging abstract artists from Piet Mondrian forward. They also recalled the energy and vibrancy of Howe’s native Los Angeles and San Paulo, where he studied international relations.
A quartet of John Leaser Speed Racer paintings were equally bright, placed strategically behind the aqua-blue Soho Hoochie Lychee punch offered gratis by D’vine a Wine Bar. A Northwest Indiana native and a licensed painter with the company that owns the Speed Racer copyright, Leaser has been painting the character since 1991. Many of his paintings correspond with specific episodes of the ’60s era animated TV series. He paints the star character in a straightforward manner, achieving DayGlo brightness. With the recent release of the Speed Racer motion picture almost coinciding with the 2008 Indy 500, it seemed like Leaser’s moment.
Leaser was not the only represented artist who drew on Speed Racer for inspiration. Leonardo Hidalgo, who, according to gallery director Evan Lurie, “brings a Latin flavor to Pop art,” invites Speed Racer into his canvases as one of the many subjects that preoccupy his work at any given time. You might, for example, in one of his paintings, see Speed Racer sharing the canvas with a voluptuous nude. Superman also cameos in his work. In the enormous two-piece canvas entitled “Star Race,” Superman shares the canvas with exploding cars and falling stars to a significantly darker backdrop than those found in the works of the other Pop painters exhibited.
Keith Grace may be the most compelling of all the painters represented. Incorporating text, sometimes random, sometimes not, into subjects painted with classical precision, his mixed-media approach involves acrylics, oil-based paint and individual pieces of typography. His painting “Standing Watch” features a dog with a noticeable erection standing on his hind legs. The background is yellow and even the shadow the dog casts is laden with random text.
Evan Lurie continues to flaunt his curatorial skill by presenting artists in such a way that their work adds up to more than the sum of the parts.
The show runs thru June 21. The Evan Lurie Gallery is located at 30 W. Main St., Carmel. More info: www.evanluriegallery.com, 317-844-8400.