Stephaine Brooks, Car, Mary Esch, Matt Fink, Nicholas Frank, David Lefkowitz, Rebecca Morris, Jennifer Novack, Rick Salafia, Mike Slattery, Scott Stack, and Lynn Wadsworth.
Curated by Nadine Wasserman, this exhibition presented artworks by twelve Midwestern artists, from Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, who used a variety of styles and mediums to present irreverent or subversive commentary regarding contemporary art and culture. Instead of relying merely on the comic, whimsical, or witty, many of the artists combined both their humor and their art in earnest. Living in the central portion of the United States, or “fly-over land” as it is often referred to by residents on the East and West coasts, gave particularly Middle American Flavor to much of artworks shown in the exhibition.
Artist Mike Slattery from Illinois used his “hyper real” sculptural work to comment on the changing values of Middle America. He exhibited sculptural based work that included a miniature Lazy Boy recliner chair, and a giant fish lure. Rebecca Morris a Chicago based painter used “junk food and video game colors” in her abstract paintings to celebrate the proliferation of the tasteless in American culture. Stephanie Brooks used a conceptual format to examine the tenuous connections between science and emotions. Artist Scott Stack painted iconic figures from both art history and popular culture onto linoleum and Formica, to question the equality of material, form, and content. Minnesota artist David Lefkowitz through conceptual and visual play in his painted traditional still life and landscape paintings questioned social commentary about the environment. Rick Salafia used different materials, – darts, nuts and bolts, to transform these objects into a dart board to draw on the tradition of the “readymade.” Lynn Wadsworth spun pink yarn onto a doll attached to a record turntable to reveal new meanings that challenged preconceived notions.
Mary Esch exhibited caricature drawings of the fantastic and the banal in a narrative format that compared drawing to language. Wisconsin’s Nicholas Frank used two video projections, one of an empty podium with talking but no visible person, and the other of a man drinking beer from a bottle for twenty minutes, with no dialogue. In a self-mocking manner, the artist both elevated and degraded himself, while relying on a Post-Modernist critique of the self as artist. Matt Fink found inspirations for his paintings in this exhibition from stories in the media, underground comics from the 1960s and black humor. Jennifer Novack another Wisconsin based artist magnified the mini interiors of Polly Pockets to exaggerate the absurdity of the American Dream. The exaggerated dolls, now living “alternative lifestyles,” presented a satiric commentary on traditional domestic roles.