"Work Play Money Love What It Is What Could Be Both Neither Art Design" at Northern-Southern
This intersection of art and design traffics in graphic and sculptural brilliance
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Nov. 29, 2019
This group show, the latest exhibition at the intimate Northern-Southern space on East 12th, "surveys creative practices that overlap cultures, primarily professional design and fine art, but also politics, business, spirituality, and social change."
That's what it says in the brochure – the catalog, the zine, the engagingly designed tall rectangle of a document – that curator Phillip Niemeyer has published to accompany the show and to extend its depth. We'll focus on the overlap of "professional design and fine art" here, because it's the most obvious and (for purposes of a brief review) compelling area.
Mind you, that's "obvious" not in any sort of "well, duh" sense, but in the sense of visuals that, regardless of however much may dwell in their process' history or their underlying meanings, strike your optic nerve with sudden, irrefutable power: You know exactly what it is you're looking at. Where the "compelling" part comes in is that, yes, you know exactly what you're looking at ... but you've probably never seen anything much like it before. Or, at least, nothing represented in quite the way it is in this newest iteration that's making your brain whisper "Whoa."
Visual innovation, we mean: the place where artists go, and from where designers later derive their more purpose-driven constructions. But everybody's a multitude, right? And so when you have professional designers unleashing their less commercial, more artistic side to see what's around that corner no one's navigated before, you're going to wind up with some truly informed exploration. And then the only way to fail – or, rather, to succeed in a less than stellar way – is to have designers who aren't such hot shit to begin with.
Yeah, well. This "Work Play Money Love" show has nothing to worry about. With the likes of Greg Foley – Visionaire's Greg Foley, yes – and Prem Krishnamurthy, Simon Walker, Rick Griffith, Karel Martens, and others, this exhibition's got some internationally acclaimed starpower to novadose its survey with. And those lights are joined by Mike Reddy/Milton Carter, Christina Moser, Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, Meghan Shogan, the Tigress Tile duo, the woodworking savants of Transmountain, and more. And it all adds up to a striking collection of handprinted typography and patternmaking, digital color-dyeing, paradigm-thwarting sculptural objects created via hi-tech and lo-tech methods, and –
Look, Thanksgiving is upon us again. And so many of us will be among our relatives, our extended *fnord* family. And, in that cliched and funny-because-it's-true scenario, there's sometimes the person who's a working designer or successful artist. And there's always the older relative, the elderly and well-meaning aunt or uncle, who will say something sweet about how the artist has always been "just so creative"; and the compliment's target will kind of cringe inwardly and try to be gracious enough not to roll their eyes. But the way those older relatives regard that creative nephew or niece? With that kind of faintly helpless awe? That's pretty much the way the creatives with all their cultural education and industry experience would regard the brilliant makers and the works they're displaying in this Northern-Southern show. That's the level of work we're talking about here.
Suggestion: Stop by for a visit, see if you 1) agree, or 2) consider your reviewer an idiot. And definitely ask that Niemeyer to tell you about Shogan's limestone book.
"Work Play Money Love What It Is What Could Be Both Neither Art Design"Northern-Southern, 1900-B E. 12th
Through Dec. 12