Thursday, October 28, 2010
Housewives Behaving Badly: commentary by Robin Venable
This month at The Arts Company is all about visual archaeology - digging through appearances to find the deeper meanings. Denise Stewart-Sanabria and Chris Beck have each created new bodies of work that are inviting on the surface, but complex in the subject matter. Once you start digging, you will find there are issues that speak into the deepest levels of what it is to be human. When viewed together, each series of work talks to the other one.
Denise's sumptuous paintings of personified "donuts behaving badly" allow her to explore the seven deadly sins and other human foibles (such as "Drunks") with more tenacity, humor, and depth than had she painted humans acting out the same indiscretions. Her bold and playful titles such as "The Immaculate Confection" challenge the viewer to see traditional themes in a new light. She entices the viewer with globs of gooey insides and powdery toppings to show how enticing "behaving badly" can be at first, but the crumbs, bitten-off edges, and reflections on the tables they sit on suggest otherwise - like the 17th century Dutch vanitas paintings that were beautifully adorned with pearls and jewels, but also included rotten fruit and hollow skulls to suggest the brevity of life.
Chris's perfectly poised "housewives", some of which are framed, sit quietly among their backdrops from ages past. Using ads from LIFE magazine from the 1950's as inspiration, he, like Denise, invites the viewer into another world where things aren't always what they seem. In the boom of consumerism in post-war America, women who worked during the war to keep the country afloat, returned to the home where pot-roasts and dirty carpets awaited them. Crafting his housewives out of discarded tin and muted colors, the viewer is invited into the nostalgia of a golden age of America. However, his materials that he uses, and his palate of colors suggests an undertone of sadness and tainted dreams that swam underneath the bubbly current of the times.
Shown side by side, Denise's maximalist paintings of enticing, naughty doughnuts and Chris's enchanting mixed media portraits of days gone by, interact with each other in an interesting way to create an environment where the consumer is confronted with his own future - and although it is flawed, it is human - which makes it beautiful.
For more information about the show, and to see more images from each artist, please visit our website - www.theartscompany.com