Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What's Happening in Boston?

Hmmm...just when I thought it was safe to return to my old stomping grounds.......

Went to the highly touted SOWA (South of Washington) arts district Friday night for the "First Friday" art crawl and open studio event which happens (you guessed it) the first Friday of every month. Well, to put things into a nutshell, I was disappointed. In this writer's/artist's opinion, the work was either forced, stilted, or just plain "boooor-ing" (to quote that famous one-liner from the 60's Odd Couple television series).

To be fair, though, I will say that we made the rounds in the Harrison/Thayer alleyway only, due to the weather being a bit on the "monsoon-ish" side (heavy rain, high winds). There are two floors of gallerys in the alley, and although we could not even see into the Bromfield Gallery it was so crowded, we looked in every one and were mostly disappointed. Suffice it to say we saw a lot more interesting things in the floors above the gallerys where the artists opened their studios to the public.

There were a two artists of note, however, that I did want to give mention to. The first being Janet Kawada, who is presently showing her a collection of new work entiltled "Talisman" at The Kingston Gallery. The Kingston is an artist run co-op that never fails to deliver. Janets new collection of sculptures are both powerful and playful. Very different from her previous work, this fiber artist was mind-weary of the serious nature of her usual wall sculptures, and decided to play for a while. The result is a series of small sculptural forms that bring to mind "fetish-toys", and several larger free standing pieces that evoke a sensualness that draws you inside and plays with your imagination. The main ingredient in Janet's work has always been handmade felt and these are no different, although this time around there is the unusual addition of tiny beads. The beading is thankfully subtle and adds to the quirkiness of the smaller pieces. I say, BRAVO !Janet. This show made our trip into Boston worthwhile.

Michael Costello is a painter whose latest creations grace the wall of Gallery XIV. What can I say about this work? Hmmm. They made me think, for sure, because I am still thinking. So I'll say the work was thought provoking. I will not pan the work, nor will I praise it, except to say that this man is a talented draftsman. His realist painting is on the mark, if a bit overdone. Forced. Loud. The drawings were another matter, however. Beautifully rendered, these gesture drawing with just a hint of color were gorgeous. Fantastic. Now, for the subject matter.

Couples at play...intercourse, intimacy, and...Elmo? (as in "Tickle Me") Oh, yes.

Largely strange. Weirdly different. Hmmm. The paintings made me giggle out loud when I first entered the space. Not a reaction I normally give while looking at art. But on closer inspection, I was bothered by them. Really bothered. Sesame street characters in bed with a couple in the throws of intimacy evoked horrific thoughts of child molestation! ICK! My first instinct to laugh was purely that...instinct. I believe now it was a gut reaction to something that made me extremely uncomfortable.

The drawings were another matter entirely. "The Queens Private Diary" was a series of intimate sketches where the man is portrayed as wearing a pig snout and a court jesters hat. Weirdly grotesque. Reminiscent of an circa 1800 circus of freaks. Putting myself in the woman's place under the man made me want to run from the gallery.

I didn't. I calmly turn and walked out, taking with me a feeling that I had been exposed to someones nightmarish fantasys. According to Colstello's biography on the work, he is "exploring the relationships between the classical figure, Pop Culture, and our cultural anthropomorphism".

Well, Michael, I guess I am one of those folks who find "ugly meanings in beautiful things".

"nuff said.