“Monkey Spoon,” curated by D. Dominick Lombardi features work by ten artists who simultaneously create and deconstruct the romanticized myth of bohemian life. The collective quest for the urban legend spurs an array of creative curiosities. But in a city full of diverse cultures and brimming information, the desire to create something new becomes a weight as opposed to a challenge even though one’s reality is not the same as another. “Monkey Spoon,” operates from the space of difference and elicits one paradox after another. Suspended between metaphor and everyday experience, this exhibition captures an imperfect, if not unglamorous, reality.
The show opens with six mixed-media panels by Dan Hernandez that impose fictitious video-game landscapes upon cracked surfaces, rendering a fake but antiquated, archaeological flair. These pieces not only reveal the a-historic phenomenon brought on by digital technology but also the shortsightedness of the present. However the process of looking underscores much of this show, embedding surprises in the details.
WPA Girl (2011) by Christian Faur
The “Melodie”-series (2011) by Christian Faur consists of nine 15-inch square frames that represent the same portrait using a different arrangement of hand-cast crayons. By returning to the physical pixel, Faur explores the artifice of digital imagery. Peter Drake, however, reaches for the discourse of Realism in two paintings titled “Shrapnel” (2007) and “Tripod,” (2008) that represent unfocused depictions of small action figures which once belonged to his father.
Lori Nix and Susan Wides present an even more layered juxtaposition in their photographs of familiar interior settings. “Museum of Art,” (2005) by Nix captures a non-specific museum interior. The title also rings generic much like her piece from 2006 titled, “Vacuum Showroom.” However the objects in this second piece are spindly and fragile, revealing this photograph as the representation of a miniaturized, doll-house setting.
I, Mannahatta (2010) by Susan Wides
“I, Mannahatta,” (2010) by Wides depicts a ferris wheel towering over three different shopping levels. The miniature and the gigantic weave throughout the picture plane, distorting the sense of space and time. Additionally, the slight blur in the image gives the impression that Wides was also exploring the staged miniature. However this picture represents a true setting, that within the Toys ‘R Us store located in Times Square, New York.
Act I (2003) by Kendall Messick
Photographic narrative takes further twist in the work of Kendall Messick, who documented the later years of Gordon Brinckle, the Everyman World War II Veteran who lived as a reclusive eccentric in Delaware. Messick captures Brinckle in a number of different settings within his house. Much like Joseph Cornell, Brinckle was a cinema enthusiast. However he transformed his desire into a life-size movie theater, located in the basement of his home.
Red Seat Guitar (2005) by Ken Butler
A series of sculptures by Ken Butler also expands on the marginal but in terms of musical entertainment. Butler reconstructs throw-away objects, such as a laptop or a school chair, into functional musical guitars, challenging the adage “form follows function.” Similarly, Dominick Lombardi’s “Urchin”-series (2011) explores the fictional life of a dog, made out of sand and discarded containers. The ephemeral nature of each piece resonates most strongly.
Throughout this show fantasy and reality repeatedly collide. My reality is not your reality. The odd, alien-like “Flowbots” made by Joseph JK5 Aloi on view are also sold as toys in Japan. These small quirky figures compliment his lyrical, arabesque drawings that delve into his personal history. In addition the precarious tilt and imbalance seen in John H. Howard’s surrealist sculptures challenge perception but not physics. The exhibition “Monkey Spoon,” first emerged from a misheard word. From there, Dominick Lombardi put together this exhibition that explored the undefined, serendipitous nature of subjectivity, confirming the fact that not one thing is ever the same.