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LET THEM EAT CAKE
by Karen Braun Malpas
There is a prevalent figurative element and a feeling of easy living that runs through the new show at the Frank Bette Center. Patty Heimburger shows elongated ladies in evening attire with matching men in tux. The two large drawings by Karen Malpas show partially clothed women who have not removed the garment that makes them feel good...a decorative ethnic necklace or a summery hat with a wide brim.
The watercolor women in Susan Hackett's paintings inhabit a fresh and happy world of sunshine, play, flowers and babbling brooks while the two avant women in Ron Miller's vividly colored photos could be drawn in neon above a sign flashing "Come on In." In contrast, the delicate watercolor and ink drawing by Solange Delpouys shows the eternally fashionable Parisian woman in her forever fashionable city.
The elegant city sister to Meret Oppenheim's 1936 fur-lined teacup shows up here as Jennell Belts non-functional glass purses. They are made to scale, tightly crafted and decorated with real hardware and strategic sand blasting of pattern or image. Imagine a Fendi purse that cannot leave the house. She also shows fluted glasses and vases handled similarly.
In keeping with the suggested Food and Fashion motif of the show, we see two still lives of tabletops. Sophie Stathakos version is a subtly collaged surface which includes a blue teapot while Wendy Goldberg's monoprint puts her teapot on a checkered tablecloth and includes green limes. Across the room hangs a small pencil rendering showing a heart-shaped rock presented on a dinner plate.Food is love?Really? Maybe some dogs and some eating disorders concur.
Carry that thought to the back room where you find Ken McGhee's solo show called "In Stereotype." When you see the bright flat colors with crisp black, don't let your eyes write the show off as "just cartoons." The viewer will be rewarded by taking the time to regard the images in all their ambiguity while simultaneously observing their own ambivalent reactions to them.
Many of us like to think of ourselves as independent thinkers but, the thrust of much advertising is to bend,direct and condition our thinking. When you see that chubby Elias Big Boy what happens in your body...do you salivate, feel safe, feel fat? When you see a particularly cheerful blue,red and yellow together, does it ride in on certain associations? Observe that.
One image shows the iconic Groucho Marx nose with glasses and eyebrows on a cast of characters as diverse as Einstein and George Bush. What stereotype is borne by those glasses and/or by those prominent characters who wear them? What is the result of combining these stereotypes? McGhee's postcard image shows 3 "Musikids" miming the see,hear,speak no evil monkeys posture.The background texture is made of many record labels understood by cognoscenti to be of various degrees of coolness indicating the musicians' various degrees of commercial success.
Sub-verbally, we carry socio-economic stereotypes as well as those rooted in race and gender. This show challenges us to examine how the common symbols of our culture may breed or nourish inaccurate and deleterious stereotypes. Viewer Advisory: may require self-inquiry and rigorous honesty.
LET THEM EAT CAKE
February 1 - March 30
Postcard by Genie Scott
In Our Signature Salon:
The Things We Lost
In Memory of Newtown, CT
by Anne Kohler
March 8 - March 30
Life by Anne Kohler