Bowie @ Clark+Faria, Air Conditioned Jungle @ Diaz, and more, more more
A little mid-summer burst of activity in art's otherwise sleepy season is on the docket for this evening, with a couple of playfully ambitious group openings, and a handful of other goings-on. A little movement would be advised tonight, as both of the biggies, Clark+Faria's Bowie and Air Conditioned Jungle at Diaz Contemporary, are at opposite ends of the city from each other.
But finally, it's a lovely night for a bike ride, so why not saddle (and, for the love of God, helmet) up? You can start the night in the Distillery, with Bowie, Clark+Faria's tasty pop treat of rock's greatest aesthetic chameleon, David Bowie. I'm looking forward to an early, early (1973!) piece by the Vancouver photoconceptualist Roy Arden. Called "Sun Machine" (above), after that piece of psychedelic pop perfection that serves as the protracted outro to Space Oddity, it's a collage, the likes of which suggest a desperate, obsessive teenage fandom -- shades of Arden's fellow Vancouverite, Stephen Shearer, but decades before.
Also good for a giggle are Derek Liddington's extremely precise, fine-lined graphite renderings of Bowie's constant shape-shifting -- Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke to whomever -- here represented only by his hairstyles.
And for my money, the economically-clever award goes to Dave Dyment for his piece, "15-minute Fame:" The Bowie single from Scary Monsters slowed down its logical, Warhol-esque length. It's a elegant bit of tongue-in-cheek layering -- Bowie, of course, having devoted a weirdo bit of acoustic pop perfection to the artist ("Andy Warhol" is on the lesser-known masterpiece "Hunky Dory":); it's also apt, in another bit of art/rock/film cross-pollination, in that Bowie played Warhol in the 1996 film Basquiat (about Jean-Michel) ... which was directed by the painter Julian Schnabel. Phew.
Meanwhile, the Diaz show gets a little more serious. Curated by 2009 Nuit Blanche curator Gregory Elgstrand, Air-Conditioned Jungle drags a hefty dose of urban grit into the gallery's usually pristine space courtesy of a dozen gallery artist, among them Tony Romano and Brendan Fernandes; others make guest appearances, like Kerri Reid, whose hand-made Trident wrappers strewn about the floor were, for me, a personal highlight. I suppose you could call it authentic pastiche: Cool white walls plastered over with faux red brick paper; bits of trash strewn around the stick-down sidewalks; and balconies above, from which to view the street scene.
There's not much mention, pre-opening, of who did what; but I'm anxious to see the space for what I anticipate to be a big, messy, collective experiment in (ahem) relational aesthetics. You might even call it a happening. But let's not do that. Still, the transformation should test your willful suspension of disbelief -- hopefully in a good way.
Speaking of (ahem) relational aesthetics (I really, really don't like that term, for its pretentious, artspeaky-ness), DeLeon White opens a solo show from Quebec/Ontario sculptor Natalie Quagliotto. Called Public Circles, she takes the term literally, transforming childhood confections and playthings into opportunities for forced engagement, adult-style. Take two old-school merry-go-rounds, fused together in tight proximity (she calls it the "Maturity Playground" set of sculptures), or a lollipop with 2 sticks. The objects are a touch literal for my tastes, but I like the idea; and in person, all bright-and-shiney yellow, daring you to spin, swing, or suck, they're darn seductive.
And finally, for the late-night crowd, an launch party at Narwhal Projects on Queen (a quick ride up from Diaz, on Niagara) for the ultra-hipster, ultra-young quasi-art/fashion/film/general too-cool-for-school Bad Day Magazine. Features the balls-out rock of Bishop Morocco (an offshoot of the Tangiers) and work on the walls by Asher Penn, Ben Schumacher, Seth Fluker and Brent Wadden. Rock on.