GroupSOLO at Swimming Pool Project Space

by Erik Wennermark

GroupSOLO, the one off performance/event/exhibition(s) that occurred September 19th at Swimming Pool Project Space, was as much about the viewer as it was about the art.  Four artists shared a four-hour block of time as four distinct shows were hung over the course of the night. Each piece of artwork hung, and later removed, in full view of the gallery patrons.

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The initial exhibition of the evening showcased Tom Long's "Untitled," a delicate and complex gouache, ink, and watercolor on paper.  The only work in the gallery, its relatively diminutive size was overcome by great richness of image.  An image of creation it seemed, not unlike a church fresco, as two polar figures occupied a maze-like corridor, surrounded by a frame of the world.  

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Carol Jackson's strange drawings borrow the mannerisms of old-timey booklets of sheet music--a genre inextricably rooted in its era--a choice equally playful and thoughtful.  In "O'Grady's Grit," a cellular, fireman-like organism retreats down a ladder having saved a kitty from the blazing inferno. "Snap Out of It" shares this portrayal of human as undifferentiated clump of flesh, as something akin to a meatball fishes off a pier.     

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Jeffrey Grauel's "Forever" and "Always" finished off the night, "Forever" providing the most direct link to the evening's embrace of the dirty business of exhibition. In it, images of workers are burned into squares of maple plywood.  From a distance the images seem boringly utilitarian in the manner of most pamphlets of proletariat strength, but Grauel's technique is both gorgeous and surprising as upon close inspection the work shimmers as if it were composed of hundreds of tiny rhinestones.   

Though GroupSOLO showcased primarily two-dimensional works (eventually) hung on a white wall, the tension between viewer and artwork and artspace was more acute than the standard "look but don't touch" of the gallery experience. Often during the evening, patrons huddled at one end of the venue, an unformulated distance resultant the show's constant flux. It was as if the work did not yet have permission to exist and therefore could not be seen, yet there it hung, not five feet away in full view.

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