Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee. She will lecture about the MAC Membership Show Wednesday night at 6:30.
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (MAC) is celebrating its 15 th birthday with a themed show, “Fifteen Anything.” The theme served well as an inspirational tool and an excuse to have a great dress-up opening party, with the ladies in Quinceanera dresses and full make-up. Most of the 170 participating artists ran and played with the theme. Some are playing with us, the viewers, as well. They are toying with our math skills, as we are forced to add, multiply and subtract. We count toes, candles and kisses, and we ponder non-sensicle titles.
Many works are humorous. Others relevant and revealing. No subject seems to be off-limits – religion, politics, child exploitation, drugs, deformity and sex – which makes for a strong show.
Three of my favorites deserve 15 minutes of fame and perusal. The interpretations are solely my own, and I fully expect lively discussion at the Wednesday evening Art Talk, when the artists themselves will comment and react.
Art that is not merely decoration insists that we linger longer. For instance, the beauty of the photograph 5 Going on 15 by Sharon Neel Bagley lures us closer. The colors are sweet. The little girl is adorable. Beauty, sweet, adorable – not words generally associated with tough, meaningful art. But 5 Going on 15 is wonderfully tough. Notice the paint-stained oversized dress. The face paint is more like smeared lipstick than smeared finger-paint. The stare is scared. To me, the photograph is mesmerizing, memorable and troubling, but I am fully prepared to hear that the artist was merely portraying a happy 5-year-old playing dress-up and celebrating Quinceanera. No way.
J.R. Compton’s black and white photograph Martin House Before the Storm adds an Alfred Hitchcock-like overtone. The scene of birds in frightened flight is eerie. Come closer. The only perch not occupied is … number 15. Anticipating danger, we can almost hear the threatening music in the background.
Many fine works like these will leave you unsettled or lost in thought. Others will make you smile. The 15 stem chandelier Phallus Shurzz (does anyone know if shurzz is a real word?) by Mary Benedicto has purposely not been hung. The artist sees it as an anchor. Displayed on a pedestal, the work attracts us with its candy colors, childish materials and garish garnishes. The work seems to ask us to laugh at the bravado of men who think they are macho. Maybe. Judge for yourself. The MAC Membership exhibit will be up until Aug. 29. It deserves a lot more than 15 minutes of your time!