OCCCA Tick-Tocks On the Art Block
Anthrax (by way of Joe Jackson) got it right when they sang, "Got the time tick, tick, tickin' in my head"—and for the purposes of this story, so do you. You only have three days to see Orange County Center for Contemporary Art's themed exhibition "Random Acts of Time," skillfully curated by William Moreno. There are more than 70 pieces on view, but I've narrowed my focus to 24 that startled, intrigued and delighted me, one for each hour of the day.
1 A.M.: Artist Tm Gratkowski's 678 Collages takes over an entire wall of the gallery, and if the sheer volume of that output wasn't fascinating enough, his frank breakdown of what he was paid for the work versus what it cost him to create it is even more interesting—and more than a little depressing.
2 A.M.: Next to that revelation, painter Kate Vrijmoet's ominously titled Naked Shotgun ranks as the second-most disturbing piece in the exhibit. An older man, partially nude, sits in a chair, a shotgun to his side, splashes of blood where his legs would be. All of the colors in the scene drip and ooze down the canvas—suggesting aging and disintegration—and leading me to suspect the picture isn't about Dick Cheney's hunting accident.
3 A.M.: Miguel Arzabe's video pushover (Thwarted by Winning) is seven minutes of Sisyphean effort slapped in the face by a moment of magic so exhilarating that I won't spoil it here.
4 A.M.: The transitory blur of movement becomes a quiet meditation on mortality in Robin Repp's exquisite photograph Just Fade Away, with two elderly people going about their business as though they're ghosts who haven't realized they're dead.
5 A.M.: Pablo Estrada's mixed-media within time 2 is a black-and-white photograph of a young man, a cartoonish red-glass heart cupped in his hands, the center smashed and cracked, literally broken, bringing a surprising poignancy to Catholic iconography.
6 A.M.: Camilo Cruz's subject in Loretta—a woman sitting on a couch, waiting—has the stillness of waxwork.
7 A.M.: Donnie Molls' absorbing narrative painting of a sheriff's deputy checking out an overturned car on a desolate road has the best title ever: Everything was okay a minute ago.
8 A.M.: Tumultuous political progress is highlighted in Jonathan Michael Hicks' photograph Super Dixie 5, in which a black man holds a stars and bars in his teeth (the flag stamped MADE IN TAIWAN), as the rust-spotted George Wallace button on his lapel is rejoined by an "I Voted" sticker immediately below it.
9-10 A.M.: The abstract faces on the two 6-inch-by-5-inch canvases in Kristin Frost's oil Reconstruction, are blurred, shadowy, as if involved in terrible accidents, their faces reconstructed from whatever was left. On the possibility I'm completely misreading this and we're actually looking at a cityscape—the blue at the bottom and green (grass) at top suggesting a topsy-turvy vista—I'm satisfied thinking my description still works as something chaotic, destroyed and rebuilt.
11 A.M.: Charles Bragg's absorbing, eye-catching explosions of primary color, atomic clouds (and Mother Earth) in his painting Kaboom—with its bold black-and-yellow tag line, "It Was Just a Matter of Time . . ."—takes its visual cues from comics (as well as the work of pop painter Roy Lichtenstein).
NOON-1 p.M.: If an artist makes us look at the world and see things for the first time that were always in front of us, then Kim Seieroe's photo-realistic graphite-and-charcoal drawings of cockroaches haunting a an IBM selectric Typeball and the Tonearm of a record player proves she deserves the moniker.
2 p.M.: It's the eyes in Monica Lundy's lush gouache on paper 13793 that made me think of poet Arthur Rimbaud. The number scrawled underneath his face, as well as a mode of dress that suggests reformatory uniform, brought to mind the mug shot of young playwright Jean Genet.
3 p.M.: Daniel Lara's Unavoidable Rhythm is 12 small white clocks, their minute and hour hands—twisted and distorted into grasping, dangerous claws—encircling tiny white-plastic figures of children.
4-5 p.M.: I love Jennifer Lanski's India ink on paper titled 1 Hr. Cleaners and 1 Minute Service. She spent an hour sketching the outside of a dry-cleaning business with the former, then spent a minute scribbling/scratching out a chaotic, abstract version of the latter, and the brilliance of the concept made me smile.
6-7 p.M.: Peter Miraglia's photograph of an older man in drag makeup, Ted, deftly contrasts the picture it's paired with: wide-eyed little boy Wolfgang.
8-9 p.M.: Salt Water (drip) and Salt Water (stream), Phillip Hall-Patch's sculptures created by attacking salt blocks with water, are beautiful on several levels. The subtext of a preservative fading away is the most obvious, but seated under domed glass cases, they look like marble.
10 p.M.-MIDNIGHT: I'm going to cheat and use only two "hours" for Kireilyn Barber's 14 gelatin prints on wood from her Summer Bed series. Luscious black-and-white photos of rumpled sheets have never been so erotic, even without bodies sprawled upon them.
This review appeared in print as "Tick-Tock On the Art Block: An hour-by-hour guide to OCCCA's 'Random Acts of Time.'"
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