Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hosford and Donovan at LeMieux


By now, we have all heard chilling accounts of the diabolical harm that the "coastal elites" – people like Wall Street tycoons and corrupt entertainers -- have inflicted on innocent Middle Americans. In 2016, fed up Middle Americans defiantly "rebelled" by electing a New York real estate tycoon and reality TV host as president. (If the logic of their "rebellion" escapes you, you are not alone.) He quickly put rich Wall Street bankers in charge of our economy, so presumably America is now "great again." But if chilling visions of "coastal elites" still give you nightmares, this John Donovan and Mark Hosford show at LeMieux may be the antidote. Based in the very un-coastal country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee, they have eloquently reinvigorated traditional Americana with timely tweaks that make their work especially relevant to this unique juncture in our long national journey.
   
As I once learned from a rural Georgia Baptist preacher, nothing is more Middle American than the devil, and Hosford's infernal serigraph, L'il Devil, top,  updates the lord of darkness with details like a modified mullet haircut and “Love” and “Hate” tattooed on his hands as he wrestles with the proverbial serpent of temptation. Attachment, left, depicts a traditional Middle American youth clutched in the dark embrace of a demon symbolizing rural America's tortuous choice between nostalgic cultural rigor mortis and the myriad uncertainties of the mercurial modern world. Modernity and its discontents are elucidated in Cubist Hell, where Lego block-ish forms appear densely stacked like buildings in a modern city. Topped with Lego-like skulls emitting smoke, they depict modernity as a modular maze of pre-fab confusion.

John Donovan's clay sculptures further elaborate this theme in Martha Stewart Memento Mori, left, a cubist-skull totem rendered in seductive muted colors -- a sensibility eloquently reinforced in his decorative dinner platter, Campfire Stories, adorned with skulls and demons celebrating Middle Americans' legendary fondness for being terrified by anything they don't understand. Similarly, Blue Memento Mori platter features a cubist skull embellished with decorative vines, and his Devil's Double platter tastefully mixes skulls and devils in a design that would surely make Martha Stewart proud. ~Bookhardt / Campfire Stories: Mixed Media by John Donovan and Mark Hosford, Through Sept. 16th, LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522.5988.