23 No. 6
publication of the International Sculpture Center
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a vintage 50s60s-style model home pared down to its
essentials; then travel back to a time when residencesweredesigned
according to theme-based suites (say a Renaissance palace); and finally,
fill the rooms with a contemporary sampling of installations. The result
is a thumbnail description of Model Home, a visual highlight
of Baltimores summer arts festival.
Carbrey, Wayne Norbeck, John Shorb, and Glenn Shrum, Model
Home (building design), 2003.
up on current interest in design, architecture and juvenalia, Model
Home cleverly plays off the meaning of model as representative or
superior. Model can describe the projects lively, polyrhythmic array
of styles from the 70s to present day. It can qualify the partnership
between M & T Bank, Craig Carbrey, Wayne Norbeck, John Shorb, and
Glenn Shrum, who designed the air-conditioned, plywood, steel scaffold,
and Tyvek paper structure, the artists, and curator Gary Kachadourian.
It can underscore the buildings effective application of these cheap
and handy materials, and those used to create the art. And it points out
the obvious. None of the rooms are functional in a real world sense just
as a model home is meant only to whet the appetite and stimulate the imagination
of the potential buyer.
by a semi-enclosed patio, Model Home occupied a 130 by 14
foot plot on a slopping median strip. Displaying a rough and ready assemblage
approach heavy on recycling and appropriation, it framed ideas of the
temporal and the permanent, and the manufactured and the natural in unexpected
ways. The Tyvek paper provided an ambient rustle as the wind penetrated
its translucent surface, and openings in the paper walls allowed trees
to enter this artificial construct. Inside, the east and west wings contrasted
a spare, Minimalist aesthetic and a neo-punk, graffiti dynamic that made
a walk-through evoke a tour of an historic house, but in a schizoid, alternate
Tucker, Stair, 2003. Astro-Turf and plywood, dimensions variable.
with the front porch, Tabatha Tucker countered vistas of the outdoors
with an Astroturf-covered, curvilinear staircase that evoked a terraced
hillside. In his IKEA-esque installation, Brian Randolph fashioned stand-ins
for household furnishings out of found objects, as he deftly played with
their original function and color and led the eye around a seriesof
mini-events such as a large, sprawling indoor plant made from a flourish
of preservative tubes for flowers.
restrained in palette was Dan Steinhilbers stack of cinder blocks
and rollers loaded with various shades of white, grey, pale yellow, and
blue paint. At once recalling human labor and projecting an autonomous
presence, the sculpture created an elegant dialogue between open and closed
spaces and offered Op-art views through the rollers cores. In the
last room of this wing, Jim Redd and Jenny Meads suspended swell
of white paper modules never rose beyond its origami reference, but Michael
Rakowitz and David Gissens We Recycle delivered visually even as
it raised the issue of sustainable living. Based on a New York City recycling
bin from Home Depot, the brightly colored apparatus (others popped up
later) made welcome cool air and water from cubed ice.
Brian Randolph, Untitled, 2003. Mixed media
installation, dimensions variable.
patio presented a cheerful study in contrast. One wall boasted a large
gridded mural of pooled abstractions by Darcie Book. Julie Liberstat subverted
the grand house ideal by interpreting the shades and textures of traditional
parquet patterns in swatches of contact paper, while juxtaposing the plywoods
real knots with the papers simulated ones. On the facing wall, Rashanna
Rasheid-Walkers Birth of Spring magically turned birthday candles
into an elaborate patch of grass.
paint spill coming from the north wing gave the only hint for the engrossing,
sensory overload that lurked ahead. Nostalgia and rebellion marked Dearraindrops
psychedelic room adorned with album covers, magazines, cartoons, childrens
activity sheets, and toys, andbuzzing with the dissonant sound from stuck
electric organs. The all-over, club-house effect continued in the next
room, where members of Space 1026, Isaac Lin, Dan Murphy, Ben Woodward,
and Andrew Jeffrey Wright, collaged bits of pop culture, original bestial
drawings, and black and white photographs of dilapidated neighborhoods
into a zany barrage of images and text, which included Mommy, grandmother
Team Lump, Untitled, 2003. Mixed media installation, dimensions
Lumps room, an orange floor set off decal and tattoo-inspired imagery,
a wall grouping of small quirky drawings, and a pile of wooden, handmade
toysa shark, a house, and an enigmatic, X-shaped box. William Downs
and Amir H. Fallah played with the idea of camouflage and counterfeit
in their muralled installation, which mixed Impressionist-style representations
and abstract outpourings with Dadaesque word plays. On the back porch,
Margot Currans Dinghy, a funky boat and pool hybrid rested on an
Astroturf island set on blue floor. Made from hot pink and yellow plastic,
it nestled a royal blue, ever-so-soft, fake-fur interior, where visitors
could rock back and forth.
beginning to end, Model Home served up wacky, fun-filled fare
spiced with just enough mental challenge. With antecedents like Kurt Schwitterss
Merzbau and more recently, Scott Hugs Teenage RebelThe Bedroom
Show, the media-blurring series of mini-environments showed that much
can be made from (nearly) nothing with apparent ease. Lets hope,
however, that the kiddie aesthetic develops into something valuable, while
avoiding conventional adulthood or becoming a self-indulgent, faux-nihilist
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