Dirty Hands at Soloway

by Paddy Johnson on October 13, 2010 · 7 comments Reviews

Soloway exterior

“The vibe is right”, a friend told me last week of Soloway. Typically this is artist short hand for, “friends I respect are doing something new”, but it can also mean DIY budget. In this case both were true.  Run by Munro Galloway, Annette Wehrhahn, Pat Palermo and Paul Branca, the gallery is open to the public Thursday evening 7:00 pm through 11:00 pm (a weekly screening takes place during this time), and Saturday and Sunday 12:oo pm through 5:00 pm. These are fairly honest hours, though I still had troubles attributing the kitty litter box placed below one artist’s work to homespun charm. But whatever. I liked the space, and will support it in the face of cat poop.

Sadie Laska in Soloway's "Project Square"

Titled “Dirty Hands”, gallery part-owner Munro Galloway curates Sadie Laska, Jessie Stead and Annette Wehrhahn into Soloway’s second group exhibition, a show that highlights both the morally ambiguous and the practice of making messy collage-y paintings. Sadie Laska offers a number of crusty abstract paintings, one of which hangs on what my gallery viewing partner dubbed “The project square”, a small painted white area on top of Soloway’s pre-existing wood veneer walls. Presumably this space is dedicated to highlight a piece that didn’t neatly match the walls, or simply a different type of work. In this case it was the latter, the spotlight device significantly improving a fairly mediocre painting.

Jesse Stead, CLUB DESKTOP // Star Favorites, Digital Print, 20 x 27 inches

Also included are Annette Wehrhahn’s messy sign paintings and Jessie Stead’s digitally manipulated photographs of Real Dolls. An uber-real blow up doll, Real Dolls saw their height of popularity in the early 2000s which is perhaps why Stead’s work held the most immediate interest to me. Why not use Bratz, today’s sexualized creep-out toy of choice, only for kids? Certainly it would be a more contemporary reference, and perhaps a better match with image thumbnails and file names overlaid on the photographs. Dandylion copy 22 Dandylion copy 14, Dandylion copy 2 reads the typical horizontal line of default titles, before being interrupted with words like WIDESPREAD HAZE or UN-INVITED MOSAIC. On the one hand you could argue such pointed titles are redundant, on the other, it’s still unlikely a viewer would even consider the file visualization were they not directed to. Personally, I liked that there was obviously some thought to arrange the files in each photograph, even though there’s little to no point in doing so. Talk about haze.

UPDATE: Artist Tom Moody speculates in the comment section that the photographs are likely screenshots of the artist’s desktop.


Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 12:49 am

I wasn’t clear on the relationship of the foreground to the background in those photos. For example, I didn’t notice that the X and O file icons form an American flag when I was in the gallery–I see it now. My guess is the photos are high res screenshots of a computer desktop, with the “dolls” serving as provocative wallpaper for someone’s working files, which may or may not be related to the dolls. Thus “dandylion copy 22” could refer to whatever file has that filename. A quick look at the realdolls site – uggh – shows the dolls all have names like Britney and Nika, no Dandylions. Your photo of the photo, Paddy, has more extraneous elements, such as the vertical stripes of the gallery veneer reflected behind you, and a guy in the lower left corner staring with puzzlement at the photo.

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 1:03 am

Unfortunately I didn’t have a good picture of the work I with Dandylions, so I opted for the flag. I didn’t notice it formed the flag while I was there.

I also hadn’t thought that the photographs were desktop imagery, but now that you say that it seems as though that had to be the case. Looking at it this way, I guess you could call the screenshots desktop still lives.

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

“Desktop still lifes” is good. This reminds me of drawings Justin Strawhand made by dragging icons around his desktop and capturing the results: http://www.digitalmediatree.com/tommoody/?36862

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 1:49 am

As I recall, those Strawhand drawings were reblogged by Eyebeam Art & Technology center. But we’ll never know, because Eyebeam took down several years’ worth of archives in a colossal extended middle finger to the new media community.

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 1:53 am

Also, these photos don’t necessarily have to be Jessie Stead’s desktop – it could be a fictional nerd with lots of files, and time to arrange them, who likes Realdolls.

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 3:18 am

or a real nerd with realdoll wall paper who answered an ad. The idea of a photographer who travels to take shots of people’s desktops seems an amusing mockery of that documentary practice but really unlikely.

Anonymous October 14, 2010 at 3:47 am

Just a reminder: Anonymous commenting is not permitted.

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