Better Big than Never

I saw the Big Show at Lawndale weeks ago, when it first opened. I took a lot of photos, and picked these as my favorites. I’m afraid I’ve lost my checklist, so I can’t remember some of the artist’s names, that’s OK, right? I’m sure you’ll supply them via a comment. It’s not laziness, it’s crowdsourcing.

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Forrest Prince’s anti-war mega-cross is as gaudy as a 4th of July parade and as subtle as a scud missile. The piece conflates flag-waving patriotism, high-pressure car salesmanship, Nazi-ism, and George W. Bush. In case you were feeling complacently distant from the attitudes Prince illustrates, he has thoughtfully included a surveillance camera that places your face into the very center of the action. I like political art that whacks you on the head- most political work in the show (and there is a lot of it) is too coy- trying to make artistic subtlety out of essentially very simple ideas and ending up with a muddle that fails to make it’s point.

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Subtlety is best left to artists like Dan Fabian, who had two of his obtuse, curious sculptures in the show. Hawaii in a Box (not the real title), was casually surreal, just the right creases in the box to show that it had been packed in storage for some time, just the right neat-but-hasty lettering one might use on a box of vacation photos on the evening before the moving van comes.

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Fabian’s second piece was a linear wood construction just artistic enough to seem purposeful, but not any more exciting than it needs to be. I hurried to take the picture next to the mop bucket (not part of the piece), because it was in perfect sympathy with the piece’s work-in-progress feel, like an easel run amok.

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The little words connecting the two heads seemed unnecessary, but this piece was memorable.

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Of course, I have a soft spot for amorphous lumps. This concrete cast of a crawfish tower, titled, if I remember correctly, "doorstop," lacks a hole down the center, but makes up for it’s diminished zoological interest with enigmatic stupidity (I mean that in a good way).

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I must have been in a particularly good mood, because I even enjoyed this piece of corny Texana:
 
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Everyone can imagine a tall saguaro as a figure in a cowboy hat- in fact you can order these salt and pepper shakers on Amazon:

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But somehow the image resonated despite it’s kitschy triteness- the singing skull, the skulking animals, the circling buzzards, all laid out with the decorative portent of a tarot card.

also by Bill Davenport

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One response to “Better Big than Never”

  1. What about the piano painting on the 2nd floor? (The trillest)

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