Sunday, February 8, 2015

Perfect Little Nothings

Patricia Murphy

Ricky Walker

Vincent Gray

Dale Jackson

Some of the shows we do at Thunder-Sky, Inc. are junked-up paradises, maximalist, thrift-store exercises in gorgeousness that seem to fall apart as soon as they come together, and come together as soon as they fall apart.  "She Blinded Me with Science," one we did in 2013, comes to mind:  lots of pseudo-steamer-punk flourishes, a silly overarching narrative attached to a 1983 techno pop-song, etc.  Just dumb fun.  "Dumb fun" in the best sense though.  We've done shows dedicated to freak flags, to Raymond's messy sense of place and non-place, to art-school drop-outs.  The gallery has been home to vast expanses of sewn-together plastic grocery-store bags, Magic-Marker-ed rocks, Antonio Adams' complicated all-consuming cosmology of super-stardom and non-super-stardom.  We've had a basement full of monster drawings from a nine-year-old boy's notebooks, as well as walls covered in heavenly, William-Blake-inspired kid drawings, and don't forget:  one whole gig dedicated to a homeless guy's hats. 

But this one we're doing the end of this month (opening February 28, 2015, with a reception 6 to 10 pm) is one of my faves because it has a focus and a predetermined feel to it, comprised of works that are humble, conceptual, silly and pretty.  I kind of pulled it together in my head before I even found the name for it:  " Makeshift," one of those nondescript adjectives that feel derogatory coming out of your mouth and yet somehow regal going into your brain.  I first thought of a show like this one when I saw the works of Ricky Walker, someone Bill met through his work as a social-worker, kind of like back in the old pre-Visionaries-+-Voices days, an artist who only has access to crayons and copy-paper, and thus creates what he creates with what's at hand:  simple, nervous, perfect little nothings that somehow have a grandeur and power, like New Wave album covers or notes written in secret in a language not yet invented.  That led me to think about Dale Jackson, an artist who uses both V+V and Thunder-Sky, Inc. as places to make stuff, and by "stuff" I mean long poetic treatises on paper, cardboard, and wood, in marker usually, made from non-sequiturs and overheard and/or remembered phrases, catch-phrases, and old Motown classic.  Dale creates an endless expanse of language without giving a crap about what it means, only feels, kind of like the James Joyce of Kroger parking lots (that's Dale's day-job, working at Kroger).  Ricky's wordless missives match right up with Dale's wordy ones, until they make a trade-off, translating into one another.  Vincent Gray is an artist who has come to many Thunder-Sky, Inc. shows, sometimes bringing his work with him and showing it to folks on the sidewalk during openings.  I included him in this one because he is pure style, and the paintings I chose to be in "Makeshift" are exercises in Pointilism, that old-school 19th Century technique.  Dots blur into imagery, like visual measles, developing lush, sad pictographs like the one above, almost anonymous, but also kind of feverish too.  Patricia Murphy's sculptures have a carefree concentration to them, colorful, blissful, a little off, and I thought of her work once I saw the three other artists' works together.  I needed something off the wall, literally.  Made of all kinds of low-end and high-end materials, Patricia's works have a cartoonish melancholy that seems both dreamy and yup makeshift, like boats adrift a sea of plastic kindness. 

So this one is personal to me somehow, and a little more careful, but still has a comfortable, late-afternoon feel to it, like watching TV after school, or doodling and/or writing love-letters in church, or listening to the radio right before you go to sleep on a summer day:  pictures, words and other things that kind of melt away your decision not to see them.

"Makeshift:  New Works by Vincent Gray, Dale Jackson, Patricia Murphy, and Ricky Walker," opens last Saturday in February, 2015.  Reception 6 to 10 pm.