One of the exhibits closing this weekend is Comix at bau. This exhibit represents a recent tangent that's emerged in Grey's work; the embedding of readable comic book imagery in the layering typical in his paintings. His paintings which embody the quixotic erosion of neglected billboard that form gestural mosaics have, in this group, been populated by strata of comic book characters along with selective, appropriated text bubbles.
I talked to Grey a bit last weekend after the Spirit of Beacon Parade. He was amused by the elevated level of response to this work coming from a broad range of visitors. It's not unexpected, but a little surprising that just a little bit of the recognizable makes a huge difference in how the general public responds to a body of work. Also amusing are the number of comic book fans (nearly exclusively men) that have come into the space and linger, talking comics. I had a similar, though less extensive experience with a couple of porn enthusiasts during my Skin Trade exhibit at Go North in 2007. It's really interesting when, as an artist, you tap into an area for which a portion of the population has a real passion, and who reach out to you and geek out, as it were, recognizing a common affinity, when for you, that subject is simply a vehicle, or a visual trope through which your able to explore elements more germane to your purpose as an artist. I can imagine that Erica Hauser has a similar, bifurcated audience appreciating her work. I'm not belittling this interaction. That's the heady hope that as an artist you can tap into such a spring of responsiveness from a viewer, regardless the departure point. It's a fascinating rorschach experiment, whether that connection proves to be fleeting, or if a deeper connection between maykr, viewer and work is established. An example of Grey's more typical non-objective work is on view in the backroom, providing the opportunity for the subject driven viewer to link fundamental elements present in both the representational and the abstract works.
This conversation with Grey got me thinking of the prejudices that artists have, imposing on their own work, barriers against which they won't dare push up against. The maykr's version of the Maginot Line, where if one were to cross (be it abstract artist stepping into the world of representation, or high minded auteur dipping into the well of low brow - and of course, vis-versa) his intent might be tainted, and the world would be altered for the worse. Of course, that's what growth is, and ideally the world will be altered by such a trespass. Positively so. This suddenly brings to mind another opening happening in town tonight which I spaced out when I posted this info the other day. Colin Barclay at Van Brunt is opening tonight with an opening reception from 6-9pm. Here you have a body of work that is perennially popular among folks with the means to fork out for it, but I think I might wet myself if, at the opening tonight, I were to see any sign of growth, or development beyond the cascade of one note paintings we've been treated to for the past several years.