Objects Are Much More Familiar
45 E.G.E. Patterson Ave.
901 578 5545
17 January - 7 March
Memphis is a big
little town (pop. 600,000) whose art scene is starting to mature. With
four art museums, two schools with MFA programs, several established
galleries and a handful of alternative spaces, Memphisis cooking. The
aptly-named Power House was renovated a year ago. Curated by Peter Fleissig,
the venue has quickly become an important part of the Memphis art community.
The Power House
is one of those fantastic old buildings that has so much character that
it can dominate an artist's work if they aren't careful. Wade Guyton,
whose work is currently exhibited there, wisely chose to collaborate
rather than compete with the building's interior. His work gives viewers
a guided tour of the most interesting parts of the Power House and how
those building features relate to his work.
Not the least interesting
part of Guyton's exhibit was the announcement card. A much smaller black
"X", several hundred yards away, echoed his large black "X"
sculpture on the exterior of the building. It was as though Mr. Guyton
provided this image as a key to viewing his exhibit. The show, "Objects
Are Much More Familiar," explores the relationships between intention
and accident, between his work and the interior and exterior of the
building, and the relationship of his work to art from the past. In
this light, the exhibition announcement gives permission to explore,
discover and invent new relationships between the building, the work
and the world in which we live.
was a group of drawings in a small dank room off of the south gallery
lit by institutional style fluorescent lighting. The walls of this room
are the kind in which the Memphis photographer Jeff Morris could find
a million abstract compositions. The small drawings were grouped together
in large oak frames. Two sheets of plexiglass sandwiched the drawings
allowing the wall to become part of the work. The "drawings"
themselves are actually inkjet compositions printed on pages torn from
a 1948 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) catalogue. Mr. Guyton used the letters
"x" and "u" along with various combinations of black
lines to give old work new meaning or to cancel (x-out) the meaning
all together. One of the drawings in this group is a page with a sculpture
on it that Mr. Guyton flipped upside down. The "U" printed
on the image suggests that it is the obligation of the viewer as well
as the artist to turn art on its ear.
Taking cues from
the drawings and announcement card, the rest of the works in the exhibit
expound on the conversation Mr. Guyton had with the building. His Bruer
chair sculptures referenced the electrical conduit snaking throughout
the space. The two lead the viewer to see both as a continuous line
drawing whose bends mimic those found in the chairs. A large untitled
sculpture employed a 120"long and 42" wide cardboard Sonotube
propped up by a small piece of styrofoam. Used for pouring concrete
columns, the use of the Sonotube pointed to the sculptural nature of
architectural structures. It also literally pointed to a hole in the
wall of identical size (42" wide) that bore striking resemblance
to the holes cut in buildings by the late Gordon Matta Clark.
the wall from this hole was a red circle painted on an 18 x 5 foot linen
rectangle. Mr. Guyton called attention a chain that hung from the high
windows to the floor of the space by hanging the painting only two inches
from it. A black "U" also accompanied the red circle, one
at the top of the painting and one at the bottom, turned up side down,
suggesting that sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. Or was it
a reference to Kanaga masks from Africa's ivory coast?
The great part was
that these loose interpretations were encouraged. Sure the works seemed
serious and conceptual, but there were also traces of humor. "U
Sculpture" is a stainless steel "U," polished to a mirror
finish, that sits almost at eye level on a walnut veneer plinth. Was
Mr. Guyton being sincere, wanting the viewer to realize that we all
see ourselves in each other, or was he jabbing at skeptics like Ad Reinhardt
before him and asking, "What do U represent?"
mikewindy is a artist, writer and curator living in Memphis, TN.