Sunday, August 2, 2009

St. Claude on Julia at Studio 527

It’s not like any other Julia St. gallery. In fact, it’s really not a gallery at all. Most of Studio 527 is a 6,000 square foot warehouse where art appears floor to ceiling like the contents of a vast curiosity cabinet. Short on the persnickety presentation of other Julia Street art spaces, but long on spontaneity and spectacle, it reflects the conceptual proclivities of its founder, artist/urban planner Robert Tannen, as well as the best efforts of director Morgan Molthrop, whose unenviable task is to impose order and decorum on what is essentially a freewheeling guerilla art project in a perpetual state of flux.

When it first opened in early July, ST. CLAUDE ON JULIA was mostly just that, work by St. Claude Arts District artists, but for White Linen Night new exhibits by photographer Robert Hanant and multimedia artist Terrence Sanders were added in an adjacent warehouse space along with a preview of a modular shotgun house designed by Tannen and noted architect Frank Gehry. But even the original July exhibition strayed slightly off the reservation with work by graffiti artists Anonymous Alex, Anonymous John and Anonymous Bud sharing space with wall-size pieces by St. Claude artists such as Alisoun Meehan’s luridly colorful BIFSTEAK painting of a slab of raw meat (above). Anyone who follows the St. Claude scene closely encountered in this show a mix of familiarity and surprise.

For instance, Julie Pieri’s Betty Crocker cookbook-inspired collages were accompanied at the opening by a Pieri performance, OUCH, in which she stood motionless as a mime artist wearing nothing but bikini briefs and hundreds of Band-aids, which gallery goers were invited to yank off. (See for more images .) Ouch indeed! And discerning aesthetes will recognize in Dan Tague’s spectacular LITE BRITE BIRD sculpture of LED lights and Styrofoam (top) the logo of the Pontiac Firebird, a car long associated with Tague’s native West Bank--one example among many of how this show occasionally transcended theory to cross over into something more mysterious. ~Eric Bookhardt
ST. CLAUDE ON JULIA: New Work by St. Claude Arts District Artists
Through Aug. 25
Studio 527, 527 Julia St., 638-3057