Camp Bosworth: Three Day Bender and Other Stories from the Big Bend
This Marfa artist captures Texans' love of guns and beer in witty wooden sculptures
Reviewed by Rachel Koper, Fri., May 1, 2009
'Camp Bosworth: Three Day Bender and Other Stories From the Big Bend'
Yard Dog Gallery
Through May 31
Camp Bosworth sounds like a location; actually, it's just short for Campbell Bosworth, who is an artist from Marfa. Along with the selectivity and taste to choose a cool nickname, he demonstrates a sharp wit with his wooden sculptures.
The 27 pieces on view at Yard Dog gallery are painted wood, tabletop-sized, and hand carved. His macho subjects include various tequilas, beers, 9mm bullets, Glocks and other pistols, drug money, and mariachis. Three Day Bender is made up of oversized silver pull tabs curled off beer cans. One tenet of pop art is if you make an object big, then it's funny, like a Claes Oldenburg. Bosworth also displays carved and hand-painted bundles of $100 bills with wrappers that say $10,000. I like that they cost $100 each, and you can buy one or a whole suitcase full of "drug money." The accessories of drug running and black markets are represented throughout the show. One piece, Viva Mexico Glock, which comes with a gold bullet, is strikingly direct, as is the wall-relief sculpture called Cocaine Sheriff. I like how the crafty hand-hewn qualities of this show mingle with political commentary.
The artwork seems to divide evenly between guns and money linked with illegal drugs and a convincing love of the legal drug, booze. Eleven works deal with alcohol. Bosworth lovingly portrays oversized Cazadores and Herradura bottles. Each of the objects is blocky, then carved with hand tools, with indented lettering that looks a bit like a woodblock print. These detailed surfaces feel a little like cowboy whittling. The artwork is animated and has similarities to kids' toys. They are not perfect – a little off-kilter, loosely rendered, which gives them all a laid-back, not-trying-too-hard, fun pose. I felt a strong desire to touch them and see how much they weighed in my hand, but I resisted.
The Yard Dog website counts among his influences Red Grooms, and that's an apt reference point. In particular, Viva la Revolution features two large old-timey ammunition belts that feel Grooms-inspired to me. Both artists present art that is dramatic, action-packed, with rather jocular notions of violence and the Wild West. Bosworth seems to be cultivating a broad love of slang, as well. When you choose your weapon, you can pick between various machine guns engraved with "Beeyotch (Tec 9)," "Glock," "Bustin' a Cap," "Cap Yo' Ass," and "Viva Mexico."
As far as I can tell, plenty of men in Texas love guns and beer, and so does Camp Bosworth. Whoever gets the most "drug money" wins, right?