by Jen Graves
on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 12:30 PM
At SOIL, it's Beyond the Western Lands: "The queer artists in Beyond the Western Lands reimagine the intersection of man, nature and mythology in the fictive 'West,' typically characterized as a place of wilderness outside the constraints of law and civilization. The title also references the name ancient Egyptians had for where the dead reside."
They do mean "man," not "humanity"—all four of the show's artists are dudes. In the back gallery, however, there's a pointed counterpoint in the colorful, semi-abstract landscapes of Susanna Bluhm, based on the Song of Songs and dedicated/inspired to/by her wife and son. Bluhm admits it cracks her up that you have to walk by a big image of bull balls in order to get to her three paintings.
Courtesy of the artist
A SNAPSHOT OF THE BULL BALLS PIECE Brian Britigan is the artist, and the text and style in this piece refers to a quote from the American regionalist Thomas Hart Benton in which he's railing against the "homosexual agenda" that's taken over East Coast arts institutions. The Midwest, he says, is immune to such "degradations": "The people of the West are highly intolerant of aberration. In the smaller cities, there are no isolating walls of busy indifference where odd manners and cults can reach positions of eminence and power."
And here's Bluhm's painting I slept, but my heart was awake, from a segment of the Song of Songs in which "the narrator has woken up from the nightmare she had where she lost her love. She is back in a beautiful state of life and love, which now includes bits of PTSD leftover from her nightmare. I based these paintings on photos I took in Berlin, which to me is a landscape manifestation of pulsating life coming out of gashes and wounds."
Courtesy the artist
Susanna Bluhm, I slept, but my heart was awake, oil and acrylic on canvas, 84 by 103 inches, 2012