Photo by Keith MayTyler Stallings likes the manroot. A lot. I don't mean he likes it like in the butt, but as an object worthy of worship and adulation for its power and steel. (If I were a romance-novel writer, I would call it "velvet-sheathed steel.") His own art is stuffed with them—and I do mean stuffed. So when he guest curates an exhibit at a local college, it's bound to be the kind that needs a "not appropriate for all viewers" disclaimer. How do these folks keep getting away with it?
I'm not one to stir up muck, but the gallery at Cypress College is doing it again! If the good folks there called their show "Nasty Town" instead of "Odd Drawings," they'd have a blockbuster on their hands. Silly Cypress College, trying to fly under the radar!
Of course, not all the drawings and paintings in "Odd Drawings" are nasty. Some of them are perfectly nice and just . . . odd. But for the most part, Stallings, who recently left the Laguna Art Museum to concentrate on freelance curating and his own writing and art, has picked images that are just rife with penis and bush.
The most cockeriffic of the bunch belong to Jacqueline Cooper. They are, naturally, large, lovingly rendered portraits of thick dicks on big sheets of unframed white paper. One is blessed with a Prince Albert piercing; from a short distance, the subtle silver ring looks like gently oozing pre-come. It's when one gets much closer that one sees the violence that's been perpetrated. Next to it, a delicate watercolor in blue tints shows a Mengele version of a schlong: someone has pierced his poor penis with upward of 10 hefty barbells. It's very urban-tribal savage.
Of course, most of us have seen pictures of pud. And though these are beautiful, there's nothing specifically new or shocking about them (except maybe for the community-college setting). But Cooper's other works are outright powerful. An untitled painting (right across from the violated pricks) shows just a face. It has been beaten until both eyes swelled and scabbed shut. The nose is bandaged. The chin is bruised and abraded. There is nothing delicate in this portrait: each brush stroke is hasty and blotting excess color until the scabs and scars get scumbled together into one mangled "face."
Not surprisingly, the show belongs to her and the other nastiest person in it, Eve Wood.
Wood's works, also swimming backgroundless on white paper, are line drawings executed in a really funny, ridiculously inept, naive style. Her figures are amorphous blobs; many of her people look like jellied hams. They're almost all fucking, or at least spreading their heavy thighs. And suspended over their clueless, porcine good times are instruments of death, of which none of them seems aware. Last Night shows a man thrusting from the back; he is sturdy and barrel-gutted. Coming at the viewer are his partner's jiggly legs, waving in the air—which, along with her arms (akimbo, naturally), is all we see of her. But balanced between them, ready to slice her into a jiggly, arms-akimbo, bloody corpse, is a spinning jigsaw wheel. Hmm. Sex really does equal death!
Brigette Burns is here, too, and while she's not as raunchy as the first two ladies, hers is a subtle kind of nasty. Her line drawings on paint chips (the small squares that allow you to match paint hues at the art store) have already gotten a lot of buzz. Here, it's all little girls in panties, done at a six-inch scale, on chips with names like "Celestial" and "Caprice" and the almost-teal "Symphony." Her drawings are spare, almost like Chinese brush paintings. Sometimes, it's a nose and lips; others, it's a hand wrapped in string, like a one-person cat's cradle. But most of them are girls on swings, shown from the shoulders down. There are legs in socks and undies. There are no bones, no knees, no ankles—just firm, elastic baby fat. Bellaire Star shows more underwear, this time on a grown-up woman. You see the stretch of thigh between the tops of her sexy nylons and the bottom of her bloomers. You see her unattractive fuzzy slippers, each hair delineated. It's a nice disconnect.
So where are the men? They're here, in theory, but this show belongs to the chicks. Of the men, R.T. (Bob) Pece comes across the best. His flat, shadowless acrylic paintings are vivid bits of monsters. They're neither raunchy nor scary—really, they're mostly architectural—but they are a nice bit of color accent for the surrounding women's works. Mark Mulroney offers flat, Seussian cities formed from what look like very clean arteries. They're reminiscent of Robert Williams without the guts or tits or poofty farts. Mario Ybarra Jr. has nice work: his Capitol Art Series is grandly shaded pencil in the obsessive-high-school-comix-geek style. Whole intricate scenes depict cowgirls and cholos with Gatling guns. Monsters and demons are ready to pounce, and everybody has tattoos—and some have chicken heads. They're nifty works, not just for their exacting style but because, hell, that's what my neighborhood looks like, and yet one never sees cholos with tats and cowgirls depicted matter-of-factly, as the norm. But while they'd work beautifully on their own, here they're overshadowed by the blood and violence of the women. Not to mention the jiggly thighs.
"Odd Drawings" at Cypress College Fine Art Gallery, 9200 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 484-7133. Through Thurs., April 18. Open Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tues.-Wed., 6-8 p.m. Free.
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