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Gallery Speed Dating in June: Part Two

Tony Nozero
‘Word’
Continental Club Gallery

Prior to this showing of paintings, my knowledge of Nozero’s artistic ability was happily limited to the fantastic racket he used to make with a drumset as one third of Drums & Tuba, a band whose 8-year career trajectory was as unpredictable as its sound.

Begun as a lark for tips as a busking duo on Sixth Street, the band then added a guitarist for trio effect, relocated to New York, found audience footing somewhere between the intellectual component of the the northeastern avant-garde and the relatively adventurous, long-winded jamband scene, inked a deal with Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records (?!) and toured the country at a dizzying clip.  I always loved the band because of their elasticity, as if their steadfast refusal to be categorized was their very category.  One minute, a dusty funk groove capable of blaxploitation soundtrack work.  The next, three minutes of seemingly disjointed noise.  Then, something like garagerock lyricism.  They were always wonderfully all over the place. 

Anyway, it’s that adventurous itch then I’m undeniably scratching when I hit South Congress on the first Thursday of the month, what with the human demo derby of high-priced baby strollers and high-priced cigarette smoking hipsters dressed like the homeless, reeking of upper middle class guilt (I should know – I just mighta been one of ‘em in my mid to late 20s, ☺).  I’m all about the future of this town, y’all, but please appreciate the surreality of the context for me.  I was introduced to The Continental Club in the mid ‘80s, where I saw Javelin Boot, & The WayOuts, & Jonathan Richman, & The Smithereens, & The Dead Milkmen & so on so many beautiful times, and it was kinda rough in that neck of the woods back then.  So, yes, I’m still adjusting to these changes, and yes, I think they’re good ones for a variety of reasons…

So I avoided any head-on collisions with the aforementioned parties and made it to The Continental Club Gallery space unscathed, walking up the stairs and hoping that the small chore of parking and all that hassle would pay off with some artwork that I enjoyed as much as Drums & Tuba.

Good news, gang.  While I’m not sure he’d be too hip to me drawing the parallel (even if I mean it in the most complimentary of fashions), Tony Nozero’s painting is a very natural extension of the kind of mishmash that his appealing awkward musical trio had. 

Having spent a lot of time in New York and New Orleans over the last several years, his paintings feel drenched in a city vibe, exploring components of urban decay with a goofy sense of humor that, again, was a trademark of his band.  ‘Booty’ is a fantastic portrait, an especially expressive facial rendering amidst the background of geometry and color that only a major metropolitan area can really provide.  ‘Snitch’ goes darker, flatter and more primitive to address one of the biggest cultural bummers of the inner most elements of the city, and showcases a whole different perspective.  And even more fun than those two is my favorite, ‘Battleship’, which is best described by me getting out of the way and quoting the artist on his website:

“Not much to explain here.. A Battleship of confused and comedic pirates launch Calder-esque shapes at each other attempting to de Picasso-fy their foes.”

A great balance of humor and pathos with a style that’s both loopy and hard, bright and muted, precise and sloppy.  Right on, Tony.  Two for two swinging the stick, musically AND visually.  Look forward to more in the future.

Also as a honorable mention…for whatever reason, The Continental Club Gallery space, which has been closed for many moons, has been up and running for a bit now.  Great local residencies seven days a week, and a cozy alternative to that rock and rollin’ that’s usually happening downstairs.

Onward, through the maze of ATX galleries…

also by CCGrady
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