by Kara Q. Smith
In the two solo shows folded into a single exhibition scenario, the viewer is left the option to draw their own conclusions about the relationship between the two self-contained, but proximal bodies of work. I found the two artists separate sculptural installations to happily complement each other through whimsicality—even though they may be contextually unrelated.
Whitney Lynn’s exhibition, Sculptures Involontaries, contains mostly a collection of charming, small sculptures, distributed over the floor of the gallery. Lynn’s section of the gallery may contain more individual pieces, but her space feels calm and organized. Perhaps this is the intention, or at least the nature of the work. The feeling that nothing is amiss makes it seem like each piece sneaks up on you. Like Trap no. 001, 2011, the pieces on the floor are reinterpretations of animal traps, the kind in nature used to capture prey through deception. The arrangement is fitting. In the space, I stepped carefully around the objects to avoid planting a foot in one. Perhaps this is just common gallery etiquette: don’t step on the art. However, at the opening reception, I liked to think of the guests as prey traipsing around the sculptures, worrying if another glass of wine would get them one foot closer to making contact with the aesthetically pleasing traps.
Humans seem the hardest animals to catch.
Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Peace Poles 1-10 (installation view), 2012; kiln-dried redwood, enamel paint, leather, studs. Courtesy the artist and Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco. Photo taken by author.
While Lynn facilitates a playful relationship between bait-and-switch in nature and the constructed gallery setting, Jeffrey Augustine Songco’s exhibition, Public Displays of Affection, uses the relationship between the artist’s personal narrative and the viewer experience to create a conspicuously playful environment on his side of the gallery. Engaging themes of queerness and Catholicism, Songco’s exhibition is a monument to his intimate passions, erected for viewers to esteem. Most reflective of Songco’s intentions is Peace Poles 1-10, 2012. Placed in a circle in the center of the gallery where viewers may walk in and out of the structure, Peace Poles subverts the traditional context of the objects – a wooden post typically blessed and placed on church grounds with uplifting messages about peace on earth on each side — through Songco’s culling of phrases containing queer subtexts inscribed on each side of his poles.
Also enjoyable is Scumbags, 2011, a series of small svelte sculptures resembling deflated balloon creatures, each shape pinned to its own black square background. Made out of latex, referred to as “over-the-counter” latex in the curatorial statement, Scumbags' forced copiousness asks that each individual latex form be highly regarded, though the title of the series may imply otherwise.
—Kara Q. Smith
Top Image: Whitney Lynn, Animal Trap, 2011 plexi-glas, wood, tree branch, 24 x 24 x 26.5 in. Courtesy the artist and Steven Wolfe Fine Arts.