Laugh It Off at Walter Maciel Gallery, LA
19 June 2009

For Immediate Release

Contact: Walter Maciel

310 839 1840, walter@waltermacielgallery.com

Laugh It Off

Curated by Jane Scott, Girl Wonder, Inc.

11 July – 22 August 2009

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 11th, 6:00-8:00pm

The New York Times suggests we are living in the “Age of Nice.” It’s a good thing too, with GM bankrupt, Lehman Brothers dissolved and real estate prices tanking, it’s time for a cocktail and a good laugh. Laugh It Off is well timed comic relief guaranteed to take the stress out of your life. Just when you thought you couldn’t take another high brow, I don’t get it, how did he get that in the gallery kind of exhibit, this show is designed with a big “E” for everyone, like family entertainment for those with a wicked sense of humor and maybe even a bit of a dark side.

Take Kammy Roulner, whose agoraphobia shapes her world. Her response is to draw one of her own imaginings, peopled with artists as well as plain folk. She draws in a voice we can all relate to and her anticipated world seems all too familiar. Her take on life, art, even facial hair is so universal, and sarcastically funny, you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement.

Remember the happy face? Well if you do, you’re dating yourself, since it first appeared in 1971 and has barely been out of fashion since. Fletcher Smith, who has borrowed from pop culture icons since his student days at Pratt, has re-purposed smiley to literally make a point. Is this some punishing beach ware or a proposed symbol for the above referenced age of nice? Does the happy face perhaps have a darker side? In any case, it’s nice to know you can still buy happiness, in this installation anyways, by the row.

Laurie Hogin’s work is beautifully painted and chock-a-block full of allegories. Included in the show is an extraction from the piece What Ails Us: 100 Most Commonly Prescribed Pharmaceuticals, depicting perfectly rendered guinea pigs sporting the brand color of the pill each represents. The undertone here is society’s (meaning you and me, pal) excesses have created the need for many of these drugs. Look, you can even see some of the side effects manifest in the little guinea pig faces. Which is your favorite?

William Powhida is perhaps best known for his self-effacing (or is it self serving) rants about the art world, its people and its power. While we tried to reassure him that Market Crash was only a drawing, he was one step ahead of the game already predicting the future with stunning accuracy. He continues to be engrossed in making work from the future while focusing on other attributes that control the art market. With Bill, you draw your own conclusions, or he does it for you?

Oscar Cueto has established a reputation of creating tongue and cheek humor while also commenting on the powers of the universal contemporary art world. Imagine a scenario where famous artists and curators take to the ring and compete for the “World’s Best” title based on physical endurance. Included in the show is a four panel piece from the Superheroes series which portrays international artists Paul McCarthy and Moriko Mori duking it out with the European curator Vasif Kortun and Cueto himself, all dressed in their unique superhero garb. Can you take on these heroes of the art world?

Using his signature felt medium, James Gobel creates paintings that comment on the “bear” culture in the gay community. The show will include an ornate portrait of a bearded gentlemen adorned in a John Deere t-shirt with suspenders resting atop his bulging belly. The figure is cleverly posed on a Victorian bench leaning on a side table and holding a bundle of lit candles. Perhaps he is propositioning some sort of kinky hot wax play or is he simply resting in a comfy pose waiting to wish you a very happy birthday with candles for your cake.

Archie Scott Gobber challenges the notion of language using a formal presentation of painterly notions. The show will feature two paintings, one entitled Paid My Mortgage and the other Gol Dam America which stylistically display a meaningful phrase so that specific letters overlap to be read in different ways. Using the power of language, Gobber asks you to provide authorship through the filter of life experiences, personal beliefs and unique circumstances. Words should not always be taken at face value…or should they?

Remember when you were a kid and your security blanket was your favorite stuffed animal. Robb Putnam’s sculptures are life size versions of these toys made from blankets, shirts, fake fur, rags, plastic garbage bags and leather scraps. The sculptures may stem from playful, whimsical characters, but they take on a new physicality when enlarged to a human scale thus making them precarious in their statute and psychologically vulnerable. No longer cuddly, the monstrous overgrown toys become misfits whose demeanors both invite and repel us. “Mommy, Mommy, my Teddy Bear wants to eat me.”

Lezley Saar’s intricate drawings and photo collages visually interpret her observations of her highly autistic teenage daughter. Referencing a Surrealist format, the large scale drawings of fantastical environments are linked together by various stems and roots of imaginative plant life. The networks lead to bubbles of visual information within obsessively patterned borders. The bubbles often function as faces of animated characters attached to limbs, tentacles and tails. Saar’s drawings take us on a nostalgic ride into the mysterious land the same way the innocuous tunnel lead Alice into Wonderland.

All in all, Laugh It Off is the feel good show of summer and who can’t afford a good laugh!


The gallery is located at 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles and is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm. Please visit the gallery website at www.waltermacielgallery.com for further information.

WILLIAM POWHIDA
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