Big Car Gallery
I have to start out this review by admitting that I'm a friend of John Clark's and that he's published quite a few of my poems over the years. This does give me a perspective on John's development as a visual artist, which is impossible to separate from his role as founder and editor-in-chief of the literary zine pLopLop, published intermittently since 1991. (For more info on the history of the zine, which has published the likes of Charles Bukowski and Kurt Vonnegut alongside the work of locally based writers, see www.ploplopzine.org.) Said magazines are on display at this show, along with a selection of his drawings/paintings on paper, his work on canvas, literary excerpts from the zine by various writers, and a plethora of pLopLop memorabilia. (This show was also the release party for pLopLop #12 which sold out early in the evening of the opening on April 2). One reason, in fact, that John's only released 12 pLopLops over the past 19 years is his increased interest in painting. This interest is evident not only in his work on canvas but also on the pLopLop covers that he hand paints with watercolors. In the painting "pLopLop Superheroes" (acrylic on canvas) that portrays five characters - Johnny Glucose, Meat Man, and PlexiGirl among them - you'll see recognizable elements of John's style that bleed over onto the zine covers; curiously abstracted portrayals of the human form, bold, confident lines, and equally bold use of color. He also likes to paint over old canvases, whether thrift-store canvases or paintings of his own, while leaving traces of the former painting intact in the final product. (This was a frequent practice of Pablo Picasso, one of John's idols.) "pLopLop superheroes" itself was painted over his renderings of three literary luminaries; Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, and William Burroughs. And, of course, there's always a playful sense of humor in all his work. Take, for example, the fact that all the pLopLop superheroes have pLopLop utility belts and birdlike faces. You would be right, in looking at John's work, to think that his style owes a debt to the early 20th century surrealists. But lately, as we move further into the 21st century, John's been exploring artistic movements that precede Surrealism and, at the same time, he's been toning down his palette and experimenting with different media. Perhaps he's creating a whole new artistic movement art critics will be talking about in the year 2110. Dare I term it pLopLopian? Through April 30; 317-450-6630; www.bigcar.org.