Saturday, June 23, 2012

RPM: The Lost Art of the LP Covers at Deluge Contemporary Art Gallery by Philip Willey.

alanna boehme chilliwak higgins irving luna montpetit rasmussen renda roygreen savasta siam6 stanbridge

Does size matter? In a recent article in New York Magazine (1) Jerry Saltz talks about Documenta. The scale of it bothers him.

“Of all the biennials, triennials, quadrennials, internationals, and massive group shows, Documenta, established in 1955 and held once every five years in Kassel, Germany, is seen as the most serious. A statement show. It can also be seen as something else. From the sweeping ambitions of its curators to its numerous large indoor and outdoor projects to the many venues across which it takes place, everything about Documenta is huge. Which makes the event, the 2012 edition of which starts June 9, an occasion to address a troubling development in the art world: bigness. Biennials have become sprawling and ubiquitous. Ditto art fairs. Galleries are vaster than they’ve ever been. But who is all this bigness good for? Is it any good at all?”

One can understand Jerry’s concern. Perhaps he should come to Victoria. Here he will find we have transcended art world pyrotechnics. We are much more subtle and unassuming. Victoria is a small city. Deluge is a small space. LP covers are small. Most of us are fine with that.

It’s probably too early to talk about a tradition but the LP Cover show at Deluge is certainly becoming an annual event. It suggests a nostalgia for the days of vinyl whilst retaining the ipod option. This year’s show is a little smaller than the one last year but, says curator Todd Eacrett, ‘The quality is higher’.

There is a huge variety of responses ranging from topical to esoteric, personal to conceptual. Where to start? How about with a sculptural assemblage by John Luna (pictured here but of course you need to see the real thing to get the centrifugal effect). June Higgins takes a similar, more colourful and elaborate, approach. Sculptural too is John G. Boehme’s LP getting squeezed on a bed of nails.
There’s a very attractive piece of concentric Op Art by Paola Savasta. For pure design it’s hard to beat Ralph Stanbridge’s microphone and circular saw.

Rachel Montpetit’s red hot Fiesta contrasts nicely with Debora Alanna’s emotion laden work on aluminium inspired by Bessie King’s ‘Black Mountain Blues’.

Beatles fans will be pleased to encounter the little known orange plywood album by Tony Renda. It’s the one with Ringo on router drill.

We find Avis Rasmussen singing the blues. Not something we would normally associate with Avis. She always surprises.

Moving right along Robert Randall’s Bird Crosby on a Hawaiian beach has a nice 50s feel, ‘Zorba the Greek’ by Kelly Irving is a wry digital comment on the European currency crisis while in ‘Mambo for Cats’ Roy Green expands the parameters of his ongoing feline dialogue.

There are a few oddballs. I noticed a somewhat politically incorrect take on ‘Summer in Siam’ by the Pogues. A monk and a go-go dancer? Confusing image. Oh wait….it’s one of mine so I’d better be careful what I say.

Not sure how to classify Guy Chilliwack’s piece. Digital graffiti maybe? It’s always intriguing to see a punk sensibility rendered with precision.

Inevitably in such a large group show some works were more striking than others. Quite few artists seem to be continuing their own artistic concerns in a 12x12 inch format without much thought for LP covers or packaging. And surprisingly there isn’t much in the way of satire. Where are Rob Zombie Sings Sinatra and Marilyn Manson’s Golden Oldies? Also it would have been nice to see more relevance to the times we live in. Tony Renda’s ‘Internet Killed the Video Star’ comes close but how about Mark Zinfandel and the Facebook Band ‘If I Ruled the World’ or the Drones ‘Watching Over You’? Great opportunities missed by the politically inclined. Just IMO of course.

“Bigness is not all bad,” Jerry Saltz again, “….but the bigness has also led to a narrowing of sensibilities, by making it very hard for any but the glitziest works to get traction.” Right on.
I enjoyed the RPM Show. No, it’s not Documenta….but it’s fun. Well done Deluge and ALL the artists who participated.

June 2012


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