Words and Images by Kayla Goggin
Another month, another First Friday Art March! This month’s Art March brought in even more artists, vendors, sights and sounds for locals and tourists alike to enjoy than ever before. Scattered throughout the downtown area and along Forsyth Park, the night was alive with live musical acts, gallery opening and closing receptions, innovative local craft vendors and great food and drinks (of course, Desotorow’s signature lemonade made an appearance!)
I started my march at the locus of the night’s activity: the Desotorow Gallery itself, which had the honor of hosting local painter Hayden John’s very first solo exhibition. John’s work radiated a vibrancy that spilled out onto the street and drew people in all night. With a strong emphasis on curvilinear line, the incorporation of highly graphic style elements, and the mixing of found objects into the paint, John’s work has a certain Pop Art feel.
He spoke briefly to me about his interest in removing the hand of the artist and creating a more streamlined, mechanized aesthetic with his Orb works–arguably the focus of the show. For me, the stand-out works were from his Tarts series: paintings of women on large glass panels, experimenting with depth on an extremely flat plane and introducing foreign elements like crushed glass beads and glitter into the paint medium in a style reminiscent of Jasper Johns.
Moving out of the gallery back on to the street, the surf rock band Wave Slaves soaked the Art Market with energy. At the Kids Crafts area DesotoCorps member JoJo Acosta worked with children to create melted crayon art while parents had the chance to peruse the elaborately decorated vendor booths lining Desoto Ave. Leatherworkers/Designers from Well-Loved, candle-makers from Wildwood General Store, metalworkers from H&M Creative Works of Savannah and bakers from Paws Out pet bakery were just some of the diverse group of vendors who came out to participate.
From there I made my way over to Graveface Records for their Vinyl Appreciation night where I found a whole new round of excellent music and oddities to check out. I grabbed a pack of 90′s pin-up trading cards and walked down to Non-Fiction Gallery to find out which artists had won a place in December’s group show. Ahrong Kim’s Disco Mind, a work that immediately struck me as a stand-out piece at the opening reception, was among the winners (which included Max Shuster, Jenny Eitel and Perry Angelora). Many congratulations to the winners and runners-up–we look forward to seeing December’s exhibition!
From there, my route took me to the Sentient Bean which hosted an exhibition called “Myblock: Uncompromised”. The photographs displayed were all taken by students of the Film and Photography program of All Walks of Life, Inc. AWOL is a non-profit that provides arts and technology education for at-risk youth. This show offered a totally different mood and aesthetic than any of the others of this month’s Art March. The raw, unfettered honesty of the photos was, in some ways, a reprieve from the often intensely labored-over feel of some local shows. Any proceeds from the show go directly back to AWOL to help fund future programs. If you would like to support their cause, the show is still up and I would strongly encourage anyone who missed it on the Art March last Friday to check it out.
My next stop was a visit to Sicky Nar Nar to check out Andrew Humke’s solo exhibition entitled 5 Drawings. The exhibit consisted of five large-scale drawings that Humke told me are just the beginning of a whole new aesthetic for him. Blending architectural and organic forms, the graphite drawings are much more about process than concrete, examined themes. Citing the flat two-dimensionality of classical Fresco paintings as an influence, Humke is focusing on creating his own evolving symbology. It seems too early to make any sort of critique on these new works as they are just the first layer in a rich strata that the artist hopes to soon build. The next few months should bring some interesting developments for this burgeoning local artist—we can’t wait to see!
I wrapped up my night at Foxy Loxy, sipping on their signature sangria while Walts & Co played classic folk in the courtyard. Regrettably, I missed out on the Starland Cafe ceramics exhibit Plates and Platters, but with each Art March offering up more and more events to attend and vendors to meet it can be hard to fit all the fun into just one evening! We hope that you and yours had a great time this month. We can’t wait to see you in October.
Words and Images By Kayla Goggin
Last Friday night saw the opening of Non-Fiction Gallery’s very first juried show: Curious Deviations. The show deals with the theme of the uncanny in art, “both the familiar and strange, feelings of tension, eeriness, or disquiet.” Juried by the four new, young artists (three painters and one photographer) who assumed ownership of the gallery in early July, the accepted submissions are a wildly diverse offering of media, ranging from both abstract and representational sculpture to conceptual assemblages to painting and collage. The scope of artists represented is refreshing (the show is populated by works from artists across the nation, not just those based locally in Savannah) and Non-Fiction’s choice of theme, the darker side of which they absolutely have not shied away from, is invigorating.
Upon entering the space, it is immediately clear that this is a very carefully curated show–this is not to say there is an air of timid self-consciousness, but rather a bold selfawareness. Heather MacRae-Trulson, a Non-Fiction partner, shared with me what a unique curatorial challenge the show presented: a national appeal for submissions via message boards and social networking resulted in a wave of over 150 submissions from roughly 50 artists. These were eventually pared down to the 27 in the final show, chosen intentionally for their highly individualized artistic voices. Gallery Partner Sam Bryer emphasized the careful consideration the jury put into creating a conceptual environment with the artwork, coalescing with a later discussion I had with MacRae-Trulson about the importance of the relationships between groups of works in the space. Bryer said, “Every piece responds to something else. Similarly, the uncanny isn’t uncanny unless it is compared to something else.”
Bearing these ideas in mind, I spent some time exploring the space on my own. Jill O’Brien and Trish Igo’s Hoarder is one of the stand-out pieces, its taxidermic buck head jutting out from a wall mainly populated by photographs, collages, and paintings. It is a jarring interruption in an otherwise highly lyrical organization of artworks; its presence is disturbing, thoughtful and necessary as an opportunity for the patron to experience the uncanny rather than merely observe. An object made from what was once a living creature, Hoarder facilitates the response that is at the core of the concept of the uncanny: simultaneous repulsion and attraction. O’Brien and Igo’s shiny, pastel colored tumors both invite and disgust.
Nearby, Logan Rollins’ All is Fair is quietly placed with Kevin O’Malley’s sculpture First and Last Breath in a clever pairing evocative of the uncanny experience of body trauma, either in the case of loss of limb or mutation. Jon Taylor’s Sore approaches the same theme in a more tactile, visceral way–one can almost feel the abrasion on one’s skin, the suggestion of a festering wound becomes a commanding element eliciting a base impulse in the vein of Georges Bataille to inspect closely while cringing from revulsion.
Throng Kim’s Disco Mind, Zhenjie Dong’s Pixie and the Red Cross Society of China and Kenzie Jarman’s Ladylike deal with themes of mystery and the eeriness of untold identity. Jarman’s piece seems to offer some nebulous feminist commentary, perhaps referencing Hannah Wilke’s Starification Object Series with its similar chewed gum motif obscuring the identity or beauty of a woman.
It is my opinion that this is one of the most conceptually successful shows I have yet to see in Savannah’s independent galleries, however you’ll have the opportunity to judge for yourself this Friday (Sept. 6) at the closing reception from 6-10pm. Four winners will be chosen to have their own show in December at Non-Fiction. This is a must-see stop on Friday’s Art March; it is rich, diverse, and will definitely command your imagination.