Tucked into one of the cargo-container annexes of the new Apama Mackey Gallery, Lisa Marie Godfrey’s Haunt exudes an introverted pathos, rehashing the well-trodden contrast between cute and abject as a Yellowstone vacation. The watercolors that form the core of the show are mostly fragile, Prozac-deficient landscapes of forests and geysers, decorated with magical sparkle stars and softly spreading psychedelic stains.
Heralded by a hand painted wall graphic, the show is personal, intimate. Self-consciously delicate drawings describe a cute, but sad, jewel-cave fairyland populated with symbolic icons: craters, tree stumps, crystals, and stars. Drawn from conventions of anime, underground comics and the pink-and-turquoise universe of fairy princess toys, Godfrey’s angst is that of an adolescent, looking backwards at childhood through the lens of grown-up anxieties. It’s the glass-unicorn effect, emphasizing the purity and fragility of childish innocence.
Travelling Companion, one of Godfrey’s best pieces, cuts to the chase. Eschewing the vacation-postcard imagery, it portrays a relationship between two similar, disembodied heads: the larger one, in front, has a feathered chin/body like a chubby hummingbird. It drips tears as a smaller, smiling head with shoe-button eyes plays peek-a-boo, popping out from behind it like a jack-in-the-box. The companion seems unwelcome but unavoidable like a kid sister, or a conscience. The drippy spreading splotches of watercolor that fill the background echo the cute, sad narrative.
Half-hearted forays into sculpture and wallpainting make the obligatory art-student’s excuses for the paintings being paintings, adding little but, on the other hand, detracting nothing. Collection, a meager cache of fake crystals and decorated stones in one corner is a pathetic (I mean that in a good way) treasure trove.
More problematic are a distracting series of "Dream Guides," antique formal portrait photographs that Godfrey has amended with little spots, stars, veils and characters. Ten are loosely grouped inside in a blue cartoon cloud, but there might as well have been six or sixteen, as they seem aimless exercises in decoration.
Although they’re a lot like a lot of other things in galleries these days, Godfrey’s watercolors are not cut completely from the common cloth. They are worked over with some care, and sprout quirky bits of painting that vary from piece to piece- in Geyser Crater the burnt forest in the background is painted in two layers of black; in Upper Geyser Basin #2, the same dark horizon is made of boiling black spots. Godfrey is thinking, and if she keeps it up, she’s bound to get somewhere.
also by Bill Davenport
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