Amalgam: A Guest Perspective

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Amalgam was a sticky night citywide. 48 hours of intermittent flash flooding had slaked soil left arid by a the summer drought.  For its part, Little Pink Monster’s front yard–a brittle-brown patchwork stitched together from the interior forest floors of Noctuary: An environment by Gigi Grinstad –showed signs of renewed life, mushing instead crinkling underfoot. The humidity mercifully brokered a rain armistice and instead asserted itself figuratively: sticking the skin of ideas to the fabric of execution.

This should be noted: I am not a gallery gadfly, nor could I draw, say, a dog that resembles anything more refined than four twigs jutting out of a pair of wobbly ovals. So the culturally uncouth, being surrounded by such a varied assortment of work (54 pieces by 27 artists) is a somewhat disorienting experience. That’s not to say the arrangement was schizophrenic; it was a deliberate buffet, true, but overwhelming for the weak palate. Walking ten steps from a nostalgia-soaked mixed-media box to a shadowy tableau of Japanese prostitutes left my sensibilities a bit whip-lashed.

But over time I fixed my neck on straight. I stopped assuming the works should stick together beneath an overarching thematic umbrella. I stopped pursuing the alchemy of rendering coherence from dissonance, and instead viewed the pieces discretely. This, go figure, was a more rewarding approach.

I took a particular liking to several pieces. Jiminai’s works employed striking color choices and was just ineffably cool, recalling the sugary cyberpunk cel-shading of the Jet Set Radio game franchise. Katie Rose Pipkin’s serene fox landscapes almost made me overlook the tremendously intricate ink work. Maybe my favorite, though, was one of the more high-concept pieces: Rudy and Ann by Jesse Gerald Grisak. Two Prohibition era portraits of a male and female, mounted juxtaposed and facing one another in profile; while viewing, one was to put on headphones and listen as each side emitted distinct channels of atonal, gnarled noise. Were I to doff my Overreaching & Unqualified Art Critic Hat, I might say something about how the piece conveyed how appearances often belie reality, how teeming beneath a well-coiffed and placid couple are wells of unheard, unresolved tensions springing from the same untapped source. Were I to have shown manners and keep that hat off, as was the case, I more likely said, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” And it was.

Tyler O’Neill




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