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BEST SINGLE-ARTIST SHOW Minneapolis 2003 - Aaron Spangler

Aaron Spangler's collection of militia-themed sculptural woodcarvings, which opened in September 2002, was the highlight of No Name Exhibition's last season at the Soap Factory. These breadbox-sized arsenals and bunkers in army green were perched on pedestals, walking the line between resembling a toy-soldier regiment and a basement-woodshop man-cave. Embedded in these pieces was a timely and deft exploration of the conflict between the romanticized and juvenile understanding of militarism and the reality of the system. A pile of rocks near a bunker brought to mind a child at play in the yard--a somewhat ironic clash with the obviously adult skill used in the making of the model. Spangler's highly detailed carvings were set amid abstract representations of topography--clusters of figures that could have been evergreen trees nodding to environmental concerns or giant pencils representing bureaucracy. In addition to personal and political messages--and almost overshadowing the master woodcraft--Spangler's dramatic manipulation of perspective and sophisticated aerial views suggested an artist attuned to standards of classical composition. With Dissident Aggressor, this MCAD-grad-turned-New Yorker offered a skillfully crafted reminder that it's a long way to Tipperary. Carry on, soldier! Carry on!

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