Imposing order on Chaos: Clusterf*ck at Craft House

Alice Gadzinski, Ode to John Waters

Alice Gadzinski, Ode to John Waters

On the back door of Craft House, there is a sign that reads, “This is not a bathroom. When you urinate here, it drips into our kitchen.  Please be courteous or we will call the police.”  It occurred to me that the exhibition currently on display at Craft House, is like that sign, an attempt to manage the absurd reality of life.

Clusterf*ck: Craft, Kitsch, and the Quotidian, is decidedly more sophisticated than what I had envisioned–it’s more Eva Hesse than Pee Wee Herman.  Alice Gadzinski and Tom Duimstra share an affection for color and texture. The contributions of Tom Allen, Alaina Grace Clarke, and Jennifer Hall, illustrate the more complicated relationship we have with objects. Alex Gilford, Daniel Bigelow, Sheryl Budnik and Sara Christensen Blair, effectively employ the “clusterfuck aesthetic”, as a metaphor for subjects like relationships or politics.

Alice Gadzinski’s work incorporates garage sale and thrift shop finds, often with the price stickers intact, making the source of her materials unsettlingly transparent to the viewer.  It is difficult to discern if Thomas Allen’s photographs of holiday decorations are statement against commercialization of Christmas, or recognition of the ambivalent relationship we have with stuff not of our choosing, like gifts.  Alaina Grace Clarke has deconstructed the stodgy silverware inherited from her grandmother, into something beautiful and relevant to her own circumstances.

Jennifer Hall, New York Glamor

Jennifer Hall, New York Glamor

Jennifer Hall’s photograph of a New York City shop window, taken September 12, 2011, evokes the tradition of 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings.  A homely gas mask is nestled in a display that features mirrors, and designer knock-off cologne.  Sheryl Budnik’s Bring the Bacce Boys Home, is a statement about the carnage of war. Numbered balls suggest the dehumanization of soldiers, while the doll head reminds us that every victim is an individual, someone’s child, sibling, or spouse.

Tom Duimstra’s relief sculptures reference our inclination to discard without consideration, but the winding technique suggests more thoughtful or purposive acts like bandaging, or salvaging materials in anticipation of scarcity.  Sara Christensen Blair’s 24 Months, exhibits a similar tension between process and materials. Empty oral contraceptive blister packs form the center of doilies, conflating a traditional domestic craft, with the momentous achievement of contraception, like a third wave feminist response to The Dinner Party .

Daniel Bigelow, The Gas King Series

Daniel Bigelow, The Gas King Series

Alex Gilford’s collaboration with Greer Pester is about romantic relationships, probably the most unruly experience that humans navigate.  The small scale and random composition suggests the cathartic doodling of a love-sick adolescent.  Daniel Bigelow’s polyptych The Gas King Series, considers community relationships. Both Bigelow and his fiancée are trained to function as emergency neighborhood leaders in the event of a disaster.  Here, Veronica is shown striding with nonchalant confidence through the unruly carnival of their Los Angeles neighborhood, which one suspects is nearly always in a state of pandemonium.

Custerf*ck is on display at Craft House through February 1, 2013
40 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Gallery hours are Fridays, 2-5PM or by appointment
The public is invited to the closing reception on Friday, February 1, 6-8 PM

-Tamara Fox

One Response to “Imposing order on Chaos: Clusterf*ck at Craft House”
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