Visual Art Too Transparent: Scion’s Insistent Efforts to Invade the Scene
posted by October 19 at 12:45 PMon
by Jamey Braden
This message tacked to BLVD Gallery’s door greeted me before I pushed my way into the packed crowd during last Friday’s opening of the Scion Art Installation Tour 4: It’s a Beautiful World:
“Please take note that you are entering into an event where you may be videotaped or photographed.
By entering YOU AGREE THAT THE SPONSORS AND ITS DESIGNEES MAY PHOTOGRAPH AND/OR RECORD YOUR NAME, LIKENESS, VOICE, … AND USE, MODIFY AND EDIT SUCH PHOTOGRAPHS AND RECORDINGS (IN WHOLE OR PART) FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTIONAL AND OTHER PURPOSES IN ANY MEDIA NOW OR HEREAFTER KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, IN PERPETUITY, WITHOUT NOTICE, FURTHER CONSENT, OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND.”
The notice foreshadowed the heavy-handedness that seemed to inform much of the art there. Scion is no master of subtlety, brazenly coopting youth culture in an aggressive attempt to win over the demographic. The labels identifying the art have no prices (the work will eventually be auctioned for charity)—they have Scion logos. That night there were Scion gift bags to take. There was sponsor-supplied Colt 45 to drink.
The show’s first strike against subtlety is Sage Vaughn’s Untitled (Bat and Bottle). A bat appliqued with warm, aged-looking butterfly cut-outs is weighted down by an explosion of rusty nails, redundantly juxtaposing battle and beauty. Still it manages to be sweetly dangerous, looking like something your great aunt could have made in a delusional vision of grand self-defense. But wait! It’s paired with a grungy 40-ouncer, as if the bat-butterfly dichotomy weren’t enough to beat the viewer over the head.
Yoskay Yamamoto’s Negai contains a delicate globe adorned with soft coral and goldenrod mossy-looking stuff, capped by a small, whole bonsai tree. It is a beautiful world, inventing a new season on a planet where the Little Prince might camp under soft pink pine needle tufts. But this pretty piece is anchored to an ogre, a 4-foot-tall roughhewn ghost/monster/statue THING that looks like, well, a sculpted turd.
I walked through the gallery continually beaten over the head with proto-metaphors of opposing forces and preachy messages like “hope” and “preserve habitat.” As I was about to exit, the sour taste in my mouth was slightly sweetened by the vibrant collage Wodabe Sundance by Kelsey Brooks. It is a mess of National Geographic-looking images, composed in post-iPod ad campaign fashion. Planted coolly on a large white canvas, exotic animals peg the corners of a spread-eagled lady centerpiece modestly restored by an explosive, bright pile of cross-cultural creatures, people, places, and foods.
And right next to it was Cody Hudson’s painting I’m Starting to Feel Better, a day-glo orange eruption of light bulbs, diamond shapes, and obsessive lines. It is a breath of fresh air. It feels personal. Neither its title nor its imagery tell me what to think or feel, yet thankfully, because of it, I am starting to feel better as I leave.