"Weird Neighbor," a quirky show curated by Bruce Tapola at SOOlocal, takes an unconventional approach to showcasing artwork. Laid out in two rows along the south-facing wall of the gallery, the art is organized in alphabetical order with relatively little space between the pieces. The result recalls the "Benches and Binoculars" exhibit at the Walker Art Center a few years ago, curated by Darsie Alexander and Elizabeth Carpenter, which featured wall-to-wall art with pieces by stars like Georgia O'Keeffe and Chuck Close all squished together like sardines.
Untitled by Alexa Horochowski
Squeezing all the works together acts as a kind of equalizer, where well-known artists are lumped in with student artists without giving special reverence to one or the other. It's not completely democratic, however. "Weird Neighbor" is, after all, a curated show, and these are all artists that Tapola selected to be part of the exhibition. By choosing a wide range of artists -- from emerging to more established -- Tapola asks the audience to absorb the work on its own merits outside of the context of reverence or levity that a traditional gallery event might bring.
It's rather overwhelming to experience all of the art at once, without any space around each piece to allow reflection.
Which is not to say there aren't certain works that do stand out amidst the fray. Alexa Horochowski's Untitled, a sculptural work made of kelp and wire, literally jumps out at you. Horochowski's use of organic materials aids the piece's life-like appearance, and her stunning craftsmanship is clearly present.
Janet Lobberecht's Untitled (#9 grid, black square), also breaks out from the commotion of the other pieces. The work's greatest asset is its simplicity, as it contains subtle movement and patterns that allow your eye to linger.
Love Me Tender by Geoffrey Hammerlinck
Some other works aren't as successful. Sherri Gill's Untitled White, basically a white canvas with tacks all along the edges, and Peter Hapel-Christian's Geode, a photograph of a crumpled piece of aluminum foil, both need some sort of context. In Gill's piece, the absence of content on the canvas bears a little bit too much resemblance to the mocked piece of art in Yasmina Reza's play Art, which pokes fun at a work that is simply a white canvas. Similarly, the photograph of the aluminum foil feels like it might be conveying a message, but it's unclear what that message is.
Other pieces don't deal with concept at all, and are impressive with the care and attention the artist took in creating the work. Lindsay Stassen's Untitled (Camille & Cornell) is an example of a drawing that clearly took an incredible amount of time and deliberation, as well as skill, and concerns itself less with some clever idea.
Other works celebrate a kitsch aesthetic. David Pederson's Jesus on the Mount is a found portrait of Jesus mounted on what appears to be fake wood with the words "LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION" printed on it. and Geoffrey Hammerlinck's Love Me Tender is a ceramic pizza.
In all, it's quite a varied show for such a small space. And while it can be a bit muddled when taken in all at once, it's an interesting challenge to experience an art show in this nontraditional format.
Through Sunday, February 2
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