By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Anyone who has run a commercial art space knows that group shows help pay the rent. Since summer traditionally marks a slowing of the local scene, it shouldn't come as a surprise that several galleries have organized exhibits with a view to covering overhead and putting some cash in their artists' pockets, plus bringing them exposure in the process.
Curated by Nina Arias, "Drawing Conclusions 2" at Rocket Projects features the work of more than twenty locals, most from the Rocket stable, with a handful of artists from New York City and San Francisco complementing the roster.
Arias, who cut her box office teeth curating the first installment of "Drawing Conclusions" during the inaugural Art Basel, quickly dismisses comparisons between the two versions as asinine, pointing out that the original included more blue-chip names and a much broader survey of cutting-edge approaches to drawing. "This is about showing solid work and representing my artists," she says. Still it's difficult to disregard the obvious.
While the space is limiting for the large array of work in the gallery, it provides a challenge to those willing to separate the wheat from the chaff, and is well worth the effort of going beyond a cursory reading, yielding subtle political and social commentaries from several participants.
One of the most startling pieces in the show is Geoff Chadsey's Practical Pig, executed in watercolor and pencil on Mylar and also referred to by the San Francisco-based artist as Gay Day at Water World. This work features six ethnic-looking urban youths fronted by one of the three little pigs dressed in a train engineer's overalls and denim cap while styling a pair of funk-ass Adidas. This little piggy well might be thinking, "I'll huff and I'll puff and blow you conservative clowns down."
Chadsey, who culls his imagery from the Internet, superimposes the faces, postures, and identifying characteristics of friends onto an anonymous pilfered photo, creating a compelling postmodern fable that leaves your head spinning. Rendered flawlessly in a detailed crosshatch style, these figures exude a tribal vibe that makes them look like a bunch of Queer Nation Maoris ready to hop the water slide en route to hedonistic abandon.
David Rohn's Pray, a chord of lights spelling out the words Prayand Prey in cursive handwriting and hot-glued to the floor, could be as much a commentary on the Bush administration's religious fundamentalism and hawkish foreign policy as a semiotic play on language.
Frances Trombly's delicate and subtle, labor-intensive, hand-woven sheets of ruled paper have a trompe l'oeil quality about them that upend a traditionally feminist craft in a conceptually vibrant bent.
Andrew Guenther, who seeks to embrace the spiritual realm in his work by drawing on the symbolism that exists between evil and destruction in a godless place, depicts environmental catastrophes, degenerate cult behavior, and lawlessness and anarchy.
These three shows suggest that, even though the dog days of summer have arrived, there are remarkable signs that the avant-garde won't be caught sleepwalking this election season.