Andrew Jeffrey Wright: Making us believers in art
The pop sensibility and humor of this Philadelphia artist feel a lot like Austin
Domy Books is still relatively new to Austin, but its gallery programming is right on – casually inclusive, timely, and funny. I looked at Andrew Jeffrey Wright's portfolio online and thought, "This guy feels like an Austin artist." The work is a happy mix of trippy graphic patterns and ironic illustrations with overt humor throughout. And the title of his Domy solo exhibition – "Do You Believe in Art?" – sounds like a show that Eric Gibbons would be in with Dave Bryant and Sam de la Rosa.
Wright draws in a couple of styles: One bends checkerboards and lines into op-art-like abstract meditations that are repetitive, detailed, and groovy; the other is Raymond Pettibon-like illustration, i.e., art that is actually funny or poignant and efficiently drawn. Then he tosses in a few recurring topics such as patches of kitschy fabric and references to graffiti or to Furbies. I appreciate his joyfully direct abstract mirrored patterns. His naivete seems purposeful as he relishes hippie graphic-design techniques and the soothing act of drawing. Some of his imagery pays tribute to rock posters and contemporary artists such as Jim Drain, Clare Rojas, and Twist.
Being funny on paper is harder than in person. Visually, if a joke doesn't work, it really fails. In one of Wright's notebook-sized ink drawings, four dogs stand around and collectively wonder in thought clouds, "Who let us out?" It cutely and sadly implies that these animals don't comprehend their own freedom. So he brings some brave one-liners to the mix. A silly chimera drawing on his website is half E.T. and half Mr. T. While I dig his pop sensibility, some of his potty humor gets a tad sophomoric.
Wright is a founding member of Space 1026, a Philadelphia artists' commune. I like this DIY quote from its website: "Space 1026 is a common excitement for making, producing and creating, not for some outside world of aficionados, but for each other, for our own kind."
Embracing the spontaneous, Domy is programming two days of free music, art, jokes, and fun. Friday, March 20, 12:30-8pm, it hosts KVRX 91.7's Beerd Fest with nine musical acts outdoors and two Los Angeles-based groups, drawing collective Sumi Ink Club and experimental music/art duo Lucky Dragons, indoors; then Saturday, March 21, noon-6pm, is the Smell, "a community-oriented art and music space" that seeks to create "an environment of creativity and artistic innovation and freedom." Lastly, Wright brings some big-city swagger to his show's opening by performing art jokes.
Andrew Jeffrey Wright's "Do You Believe in Art?" runs March 21-April 19 at Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez. An opening reception, Saturday, March 21, 6-9pm, features a live performance at 6:05pm by Sweatheart, Narwhalz of Sound, and Andrew Jeffrey Wright art jokes! For more information, call 476-3669 or visit www.domybookstore.com/austin.