Monday, July 28, 2008

Pom Poms and Tinsel

Tobin Hines "Untitled (Clown)" 2008 - Cast concrete, paint, pom poms

Small town Madison, Georgia never ceases to amaze, which may be due in part to Angela Nichols, Gallery Coordinator extraordinaire for the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center.

"Untitled (Glam)" 2008 - Pine, paint, and tinsel

Who put together "Glitz Practice," selected works by artists Tobin Hines and Mike Chapman. The show made excellent use of the large three-room gallery space, incorporating sculpture, drawing, photography, painting, installation, and even a bit of glass work. Each room housed a different series of work by each artist, while upholding a sense of light-hearted amusement throughout.

Tobin Hines "Untitled #2" 2008 Graphite on paper

There's something about these drawings by Hines I find incredibly appealing.

"Untitled #2" 2008 Graphite on paper

Can't quite put my finger on it... but these drawings seem just undone enough to engage the viewer completely. It would have been easy to over work these but the artist leaves it to the viewer's mind to fill in the blanks, creating a nice contrast between what is actually seen and what is mentally inferred.

Mike Chapman "Pink Wall" 2008 - Photograph

The drawings are paired with Chapman's photographs, which come across as equally reduced in detail, eliminating the extraneous.

"TV" 2008 - Photograph

But again the gutting of the image leaves room for the viewer's own thoughts. Chapman is purposefully photographing isolated objects, attempting to remove artistic artifice and deliver a suspiciously straightforward image.

"Bed" 2008 - Photograph

("Bed" and "Pink Wall" above read almost like punctuations of color within the series of work but again Chapman is not attempting to create an image any more flamboyant than the actual subject matter. While the photographs do have an "atmospheric" quality it is almost as if Chapman is saying "the jokes on you, all I did was photograph a wall.")

"Phone" 2008 - Photograph

But if the images are blunt in subject, they are not so sincere. The composition lingers somewhere between candid and staged and the artist's decision to photograph this object, in this particular environment, leaves enough unanswered questions to keep the viewer curious and guessing.

"Untitled (plates of food)" 2008 - Photography

Chapman continues this with a series of photographs of food on plates, but unlike the previous series, these indeed can be reduced to shape and color. Mystery is discarded for amusement and through presentation gives a second, slightly more nauseating look, at food for consumption.
Remember the game where you had to figure out "Which of these doesn't belong?"

"Untitled (plates of food)" - detail

No, not this one, I was referring to the photo of the empty plate...

Chapman's photographs of food are paired with Tobin's recreation of various bumper stickers into painted wood panels and sandblasted mirrors.

Tobin Hines "The Universe White" 2008 - mm on panel, sandblasted glass

Again, the pairing of the artist's works is spot on, Hines pokes fun at the silly slogans that reduce people's opinions and attitudes to catch -phrases much as Chapman reduces food portraits to something as nutritious as Pop Tarts, I mean, Pop Art.

"The Universe White" 2008 - mm on panel, sandblasted glass

Tobin Hines "Untitled" - detail

I have mixed feelings about the presentation of these paintings. Sign design (and graffiti) are all the rage in Contemporary art these days, but it seems that one must go a step further than enlarging and duplicating text by hand to get a greater point across. Why not duplicate via a commercial process? The hand painted look begins to resemble Folk Art but is that an appropriate association?

Tobin Hines "Untitled" - detail

The grouping of so many on one wall does make the one-liners seem all the more idyllic and childish but by removing them from the public sphere of automobile bumpers, they become more homespun hanging on a museum wall.

The third room is the most allusive - reading like an exercise in surrealism, converging inside with out, sky with ground, empty billboards and white clouds.

Installation art meets vandalism

The room even came equipped with a sitting area and material for reading. But I would say this one is better experienced in person than through foe-toes. And you've got your chance this Saturday, August 2nd 2008, there will be a reception for "Glitz Practice" from 2-4pm at the Madison Cultural Center. Show up until September 12th 2008.


jen said...

crazy. madison was the town we used to drive out to for fun when we were in grad school. we were eating lunch there one day and talking about how viable it would be to move there and open an art gallery in one of the fantastic big old storefronts that was empty. after we saw the civil war re-enactors later that day we thought, maybe not yet.
maybe now, eh?

Jonathan said...

I would have never guessed it, but it turns out someone is already ahead of you, Madison is in the process of getting the "Madison Contemporary" - which will be housed in one of the beautiful old buildings facing the town square.

I met the architect doing the renovation and they are set on bringng serious Contemporary art to the town along with artist studios. More info at

Its going to have a very positive impact on the artists of Atlanta and Athens as well.