Late 2011, the Flyer sent out a call for artists and artistic types to submit ideas for transforming Flyer newspaper boxes into works of art for our first Flyer Art Box Contest. We got nearly 150 submissions, choosing 13. What we got back was a whirl of creativity — graffiti, pharaohs, old maps used for collage, a Day of the Dead Elvis, the pairing of pastries and animals … And so, we’re doing it again.
Here’s how it works: If you would like a Flyer box to transform into art (without disassembling, please), go to boxcontest.memphisflyer.com to submit your idea.
• Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, August 7th.
• We will select a group of artists who will be notified on or around August 9th, and each will have one month to transform their box. A materials stipend will be provided for all selected artists courtesy of our sponsor, the Art Center Supply Store.
• Once all of the boxes are completed and returned, we’ll have a photo shoot of the artists with their work.
• Artists will be honored at the Flyer’s annual Best of Memphis party, and full artist profiles and box images will be featured in the October 3rd edition. Boxes will then be displayed as working public art throughout the city.
• Flyer readers will also vote on “Best in Show,” the winner of which will receive a $500 cash prize.
The opening will take place at Greely Myatt’s Wrong Again Gallery, a short jag away from Sun (Solar?) Studios on Marshall Avenue. Wrong Again Gallery, according to Myatt, is “more of a project than a gallery” (The “actual” gallery exists behind a nonfunctional door inside Myatt’s sculpture studio. It’s a concept.) For exhibitions, Myatt skypes in a remotely located artist, who discusses his or her work via a large projector screen. The only rule, Myatt says, is that the artist cannot be in physical attendance of the show.
It is fitting that the title of Close’s show should have dual meaning: tying her directly to the land on which she has been walking and camping, and beaming her through space traffic to arrive at her own opening.
Close’s past work has concerned intersections of race, history, and cyclical violence. Travel sheds a different light on these elements.
It is easy to be suspect of the artist/writer on a journey who makes work about that journey, that the all-too-easy trope of the artist who goes on a trip to wherever and finds themselves.
The court of the public opinion is particularly hard on female artists who leave their lives to go on quests. Think about the backlash to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. In the 2012 movie, Tatu, many characters are racists, expatriates and imperialists, but it is the female lead who arguably receives the most directorial flack. A contemporary performance artist, Ellie Ga, who recently took a trip to the Arctic, got a lot of attention for her work, but every interview with her has some ring of “…and what was your business up there?”
It is not that travel works by women are criticized; it is how they are criticized. Compared to the vast body of man-on-a-motorcycle literature and photography, there are few records of women going on journeys for reasons other than escape. When they do appear, they are read as self-absorbed and naive.
It will be interesting to see how Close handles this in her recent works, as a woman of color, as a critic of history, as a tourist, as (perhaps) a pilgrim, and as an artist with the ability to share her work globally.
Mid-summer is a notoriously slow time in the art scene. People leave town to go to Sandestin, or else they watch high-budget, low-content movies in the safety of air-conditioned megaplexes, or else they read fiction about wealthy cliquey teenagers. Or else they buy Icees. I don’t know.
What I do know is that if a light summer novel were to take its plot points from current Memphis art shows, the main character would be “somebody’s cat from Facebook” (Paul Edelstein, at Java Cabana), the love interest would ride custom-painted motorcycles through a 1960s pop underworld (Nosy42, Gasoline Gallery), and the conflict would happen when all electronics across the world break down and everybody has to look at a new universe of unimaginable static (Gregg Haller, Gallery Fifty Six).
At Gasoline Gallery, on Broad, the unavoidable Memphis street artist Nosy42 has a show of pop collages: stenciled bombs and guns and pictures of what your mom looked like in 1959, classic film regalia, newspaper bits, compiled and decoupaged under thick layers of shellac. Nosy42 is also responsible, in his more recognizable street art style, for a purple, airbrushed painting/sign outside the gallery: the name “Gasoline,” stop-ended by a sketch of the Broad Ave water tower.
Steven Williams, Gasoline’s proprietor and the show’s curator, told me that he personally doesn’t like graffiti, particularly not the uninvited tags that crowd the walls surrounding his property. Steven is a custom automotive painter, and, when his mammoth workspace (located behind the gallery) isn’t hosting some graphically enflamed motorcycles, it is the makeshift home of his stylistically similar paintings.
At the David Perry Smith Gallery, “Green,” curated by gallery intern Natalie Brashear, is all over the map: rough, cheese-grater abstracts by Collierville-based painter Mike Coulson, some miniature, meticulous, thick-framed paintings called “Treescapes” by Andy Reed, as well as canonical Southern landscapes by painter Jeanne Seagle. The gallery’s back room, which, happily, is painted a pale metallic green, holds some rather beautiful Charles Ivey encaustics, and one toxic-event-looking abstract by Paul Vinsonhaler.
At Gallery Fifty-Six, on Central, a no-holds-barred incredible show called “Causal Momentum,” opened last weekend, featuring work by local artist Gregg Haller. Haller, a self-educated painter and lay mathematician, produced a body of 18 paintings over the past year, working steadily on several canvases at a time in his small apartment. Haller doesn’t have a home phone or computer, and his paintings look like the work of someone whose focus developed in under semi-hermetic conditions. Which is to say, the cumulative product of a lot of uninterrupted labor, and obvious, singular focus.
Haller’s paintings appear, to me, like a direct transcription of the breakdown of a thought process: frenzied, black, white and grey marks, half-symbols, thick-layered, voiding each other in the canvas’ static grounds. He told me that he considers this body of work to be anterior to his previous works: hand-drawn, mathematically reasoned variations on the form of the cube. He describes his previous, mathematical/visual processes as tantamount to piling single granules of sand together, one after the other, until the resultant mountain of sand capsizes under its own weight. The process of making these latest paintings, he says, felt like that avalanche.
Paul Edelstein also has new paintings on display amidst the Java Cabana bric-a-brac. Among the works: loose figurative pieces, a wall of folk artsy flowers (which fit nicely next to Java’s teal wall color), and one glaring, white cat.