IDADA First Friday reviews, Feb. 2014 

click to enlarge Kyle Herrington, "Fat and sassy"
  • Kyle Herrington, "Fat and sassy"

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Work by Kyle Herrington
General Public Collective through March 5

★★★1/2

The twenty paintings that form Herrington's newest exhibition are his most uncompromising yet. The result of such newfound artistic freedom is a careful balancing act of shock value, humor and tongue-in-cheek observations and critiques of culture. Herrington told me in conversation that phrases in the paintings are drawn from, in part, utterances overheard at gay bars and things people said to his sister through online dating sites. Memorializing such supposedly trivial and ephemeral statements in the realm of art encourages a reconsideration of both the scope of contemporary art as well as the nature of communication today. The internet and meme culture have been hugely influential in fostering a sense that one can say anything and represent oneself in any way - bonus points if it happens to be abject and/or humorous.

What Herrington is doing here is using his own creative license to lampoon the brazen, bizarre and comical sea of words that are floating out there. The words are literally floating in space in the paintings. Each depicts stars in the night sky, with words overlaid or cut out of the cosmic landscape. Shock value runs rampant in this series of work, but Herrington balances it out with a skillful mix of his own brand of humor and cultural criticism. - Charles Fox

The Empire Never Ended: Marc Bijl, Serge Onnen and Prince Rama
iMOCA through April 12

★★★ (out of five)

Philip K. Dick's science fiction novel VALIS, which inspired this exhibition, might make you seriously question the nature of reality. But the hot tub (courtesy of Royal Spa) in the middle of iMOCA's main gallery, complete with revelers partaking of the bubbly waters, had me questioning the purpose of the art installation parked here (entitled "Neon-Classical," by Prince Rama). The taut pink plastic strings that framed the hot tub (so to speak) alluded to the revelation that Dick suspected was beamed into his brain by aliens. Said information conveyed the idea that Southern California circa 1974 was a big hologram imposed on first century Rome. Or was that vice-versa? Also to be found here: a poster of Kim Kardashian and ersatz Roman sculpture.

The question in my brain: Should one critically ponder this decadent flowering of American kitsch or revel in it? The answer, I suppose, is a bit of both. Marc Bijl's "PORN" sculpture, hanging out in the adjacent Jeremy Efroymson gallery, couldn't be more timely, considering the IMA's upcoming Robert Indiana show. "PORN" just might more accurately reflect American culture - as well as Dick's literary explorations of - better than Indiana's "LOVE" sculpture, which it emulates and satirizes. - Dan Grossman

click to enlarge Linda E. Anderson, "Axis"
  • Linda E. Anderson, "Axis"

Linda E. Anderson: Recurrences
Gallery 924 at the Arts Council through Feb. 28

★★★★

Nothing encapsulates memory better than old houses, with human presences (and odors) absorbed into the walls or lying around in old photographs. In Linda Anderson's stunning collection of oil paintings, you see human figures, always depicted nude, that have become one with the houses they live (or lived) in. But the domestic terrain in which these figures reside seems to be forever shifting, as if you are viewing it through a kaleidoscope. In "Axis," the female figure seated on a table looking out a window seems to multiply into two separate figures, and then dissolve in the blinding sunlight. Anderson's palette of colors, usually dampened down, explodes in certain paintings as if to suggest movement - that is, the movement of people through and past their habitations, as well as the relentless forward movement of time. - Dan Grossman

click to enlarge Marna Shopoff, "Layered Between"
  • Marna Shopoff, "Layered Between"

Hopson, Russell, Shopoff
Work by Melissa Hopson, Hillary Erin Russell, and Marna Shopoff
Primary Gallery
Closing reception: Friday, Feb. 28, 6-9 p.m.

★★★1/2

Some of Marna Shopoff's painterly depictions of buildings are based on photo reference. And some are fantastical. Ultimately, her art has much to do with how we interact with the constructed world around us. Or, just maybe, how we dream about it. In the mixed media, six-panel painting "Restructuring," the building that she depicts (and/or its blueprints) has a certain solidity. But the forms of this building seem to be ever-changing, constantly shifting amidst a hallucinatory geometric hall of mirrors. Everything is grayscale, or in muted browns and tans, an exploration of form rather than color. If you could take an MRI of an architect's dream, this is what it might look like. The other installation art on display here might have been better presented in an art pavilion setting, such as the November 2013's Welcome Home exhibit in the Old City Hall building. - Dan Grossman

click to enlarge Todd Matus, "China Attack!"
  • Todd Matus, "China Attack!"

Todd Matus: Collages
Litmus Gallery by appointment

★★★★

Taking a cue from Kurt Schwitters, the German artist who made his mark in Weimar-era Germany, Matus here creates collages both actual and simulated. "Paper Ships" is composed of decayed wallpaper and has an odd, earthy beauty. Other collages have no actual existence other than as digital photographic prints, such as "China Attack!" which riffs on Far-Eastern pop culture. If you've seen Matus' work before, you can't help but sense the autobiographical elements that bespeak wanderlust in both his travels and his artistic explorations. This restlessness is what keeps me wondering where he will go next with his tiny gallery. And it keeps me coming back. - Dan Grossman

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