Sunday, August 10, 2008

Owns Your Genitals (!?!)

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia does not own your genitals

Edward Ross "Untitled" - 1971 - oil, wax on canvas

but they do own a collection of abstract minimalist, pattern-infused, paintings currently being shown under the exhibition title "Aesthetic Connections: Selected Works from the MOCA GA Permanent Collections." The show opened Friday night, and nugatory title aside, it was interesting to get a glimpse of what the MOCAGa has been cherry picking from the work of Georgia artists over the last few decades.

Judy Barber "Untitled" - 1993 acrylic on canvas

A few things were fascinating for an entirely different reason, like, was this painting ever considered not tacky? Even in 1993? Or was that the point of the painting - to poke fun? Or is this representative of a very brief trend in painting that caught on like wild fire in every cheap Florida hotel chain from Panama City to Key West? I am truly curious and feel this painting deserves its own little information label to clear things up.

Other paintings, like Joseph Perrin's "Untitled" acrylic on canvas from 1982 has better withstood the passage of time, with many elements (especially the use of color and pattern) being reinvestigated by painters now.

The best part of the reception was seeing the MOCAGa situated in their new space (what use to be Lowe Gallery along with a few other areas of the Tula Art Center). The space is much larger than the old location on Peachtree and gives the Museum a new prestige and enough room to display multiple fully developed exhibitions. For me this is one of the bigger signs of late that the city of Atlanta is developing into a stronger art center for the south.

Tying into the show of abstract paintings from the permanent collection is the second exhibition, recent paintings by Don Cooper called "This Moment As It Is: A Connection to the Whole"

The work explores color through the premise of the circle, creating depth through rings of varying color, and experimenting with contrast of hue. The paintings came across more as color fields than geometric studies, more Rothko than Stella, though Cooper does seem to give the circles more universal associations, i.e. referencing the "whole" in the show title and the painting title "Traveling Through the Universe."

Don Cooper "Travels Through the Universe" - 2007 - acrylic on canvas

And now for something completely different...

On the other side of the building, housed within the museum's new archive and resource center, is a tribute to the 1980's art collective TABOO.

Mapping out various theme shows created by the politically charged gay artists collective.

The shows were a mix of shock and amusement with an underlying sense of urgency, protest, and questioning of the status quo.

And the south never seemed to escape their mischievous gaze.

Perusing this show made it clear Atlanta has lost something since the end of TABOO, actually two things I would greatly miss had I ever experienced them, 1) a group of gay artists creating work in reaction to being a fag in the deep south (and in turn creating a community of sorts) and 2) a group of artists ready to shake it up politically, cause some ruckus socially, and have some fun along the way.

Sigh. The end is near little lamb.

The retrospective was curated by the only surviving member of the five man group Larry Anderson, who wants everyone to know that TABOO owns their genitals.

Apparently, in one "performance" the members of the group moved through a large crowd of people, putting the stickers of ownership on random strangers. And here is a portrait of Larry with a headless skeleton on his back and wait, is that the rear-end of a carousel horse up his...?

Label reads: "Senator Jesse Helms Lawn Jockey. Not a friend of the arts..."

But MOCAGa I think, is a friend of the arts, and not Cobb County kind of art either. All shows up until September 20th 2008. Check 'em out.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Benjamin Smoke documentary?

Jonathan said...

I have not but I think that's about to be added to my Netflix.


Jeremy Abernathy said...

Jesse Helms! Ha!

Nice variety there. Thanks for words on Taboo. That's an important piece of puzzle I'd have totally missed.

Mandie Turner Mitchell said...

So glad you covered TABOO and Don Cooper! (Although it is probably the ONLY interesting thing that has happened at MOCA GA in a little while.) Larry made a great impression on me as a student at ACA and I am a more politically motivated person and activist artist because of hearing the history of TABOO from the sources. The ephemera blog continues to be awesome. You own mine, you sho do!

Jennifer Park said...

Don Cooper- beautiful but blatant rip-offs of Eva Hesse.

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