Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday, May 11, 2012

Semantic Ascent!

"Oh shit"….phew, for a moment I thought it was a dark, dreary post election November. I am speaking about Jack Metcalf's and Brett Hargeshmeir's collaborative show at the MAM's April Artini event. The show transforms Newt Gingrinch into a dancing Grinch dressed in a leotard and speaking in semantic-colorful-meaningless-soundbites. Albeit, there was not any connection between Dr. Seuss' Grinch and this show, but it's what comes to mind when I think of Newt Gingrich…to me he sucks everything good and pretty out of life.  However, in this imaginative reformation of this political icon, Metcalf & Hargeshmeir convey to me the meaninglessness and absurdity of the whole political situation.

"Semantic Ascent" features many woodcuts of a grotesque, multi-limbed Newt donning leotards and funny hats. Each Newt has an emotionally charged facial expression, and through repetition appears to be dancing around the space like a deformed-mud-puddle-stained ballerina.  Incorporated into this somatic display are brightly colored, geometrically painted speech bubbles by Brett Hargesheimer.   I enjoy how these appear like nonsensical blurted statements, although their appearance is too pretty compared to the general vomit, I mean, speech that we normally hear from our pal Newt. But I suppose that is part of the "semantic" portion of the show’s title.  

"Wait? Semantic?"  I ask myself. "What does "Semantic" actually mean, anyway, and how does it relate to this show?"  Wiki tells me Semantics is the study of meaning with a focus on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs and symbols. Ok, I am getting somewhere in understanding the function of the speech-bubble-paintings, but this still wasn't enough. So I ask Jack Metcalf. He tells me about this 20th century analytical philosopher with a long name who defined the term semantic ascent as "a shift from talking about the world to talking about words." Hmmmm…ok???  Metcalf continued to describe situations from graduate school to the bar where most of the miscommunication he witnessed came from linguistics, i.e. the words, rather then the actual, understood world around us.  So there is a disconnection between the words that we use and the reality they are used to describe.  At first glance it's like "duh," but I am not so sure we are completely aware of the subtlety and pervasiveness of this event and how it plays out in our lives. Jack continues, "This disconnection is frustrating in the way it advances the way we use language into a meaningless realm."

Well this is all fascinating, Jack, but why Newt?” Beyond some personal connections, Metcalf tells me he chose Newt because, "I considered Newt to be a ridiculous, meaningless, contradicting individual, and it is these very qualities I wanted to borrow from him."  Aha! The light shines in and illuminates the darkness. To  recap, Ballerina Von Newt points to Newt’s ridiculous and contradicting qualities. While, the flawlessly painted speech bubbles represent the highly polished sound bites we hear from Newt.  These blurbs in regards to semantics and due to this communication-disconnect can sound true but can still be meaningless, empty, and ultimately false.

The Newts weren't the only ones dancing at this collaborative mega event. The Bare Bait Dance crew improvised movement that nicely complement the dancing Newts and they wore clothing that were similar to the color of the speech bubbles.  I would have liked to see the dancers engage with the audience and artworks more, however I didn’t see all of the dance performance so maybe I missed what I was looking for.  The Best Westerns done sang some fine soundin' country music, while some BFA printmaking students printed woodcuts onto shirts for the show’s attendees.  Burke Jam played some videos and Kris moon spun records providing a nice soundtrack for both the real dancers and the Newts.

The ephemeral nature of this one night event contributed to Semantic Ascent’s powerful playfulness, and certainly offered some contrast from the previous show in the MAM's main gallery the never-ending Ansel Adams exhibit!  At the end of the night, and again unlike the Ansel Adams show, Metcalf invited the audience to take home whatever portion(s) of Newt you wanted…how cool is that?  The ladders were highly sought after.

Overall, the artworks were highly engaging on the visual and spatial sense, and I really enjoyed the grotesque, humorous and satirical nature of this show.  It was a good fun experience, while also carrying a strong sense of content that invited me to think and look deeper for my own semantic ascent.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Atari Aesthetics at the Brink

The Brink Gallery is hosting a juried exhibition titled "Atari Aesthetics".

Here is the link to their webpage with the details.

It looks like it is going to be a fun show, so stop playing video games and submit! Deadline is December 15th

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Megala...what? An evening with Abe Coley

Look at all those health food snacks!
Abe Coley made a run for dictator of West Montanastan this last First Friday with six separate shows at six different local businesses.  The overall event is titled Megalobamboozlementarianism: Abe Coley for Dictator of West Montanastan. His works are outrageously fun, overloaded, and filled with ingenious anecdotes and witty observations.  Many of the works are rather large and painterly with simple drawings of figures, faces, animals, plants, words and all sorts of other hullabaloo; while others remain simple little collages and drawings. The small drawings and collages seem like little jokes put in visual form.  

Abe led us on a walking tour of the different venues, feeding us health food snacks and pretty much just chillin' out with us.  I was kinda hoping he would make some kind of proclamation or speech at each venue, but no he kept it simple, non-nonchalant and let the work speak for's to that!  I am not sure there was a specific theme for the night, but some of the themes I found where love, love lost, scary, funny, prolific, animals, plants, big, overload, mashing, smashing, dripping, naked-ness, death, life, truth. Although, when I met with him the week before he did mention something about people getting screwed by rich people, a book about the conquest of the West, a sneaky politician, a grandiose weirdo, and that it is easier to ask for forgiveness later then ask permission first. So yeah.

The work is up for the month at 6 different venues.  To learn more and to find out where the different venues are go to  Now...the pictures! of my favs.
almost naked self-portrait in the garden! Yeah Abe, I like your style!
another detail

Doilies, drunk rabbits and fire = dangerous
awwww he has a pet kitty
If you can tell me what instrument and what band this guy plays in then you will get a free artmelt book-when it comes out, and if we remember.
Abe makes you think!
Shit bro is right!

Abe's work accentuates anyone's style
Dogs on acid
This was part of the 18 and over portion of the show
Tricia really liked can you not!
Dig the Face & Party Lion!
i love this simple portrait...its like "Hey!"
what an awesome skull!

These were littered throughout all the shows...what's cooler the words or the lines?

Abe traveled by scooter to each show

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Calling you....artmelt is a BOOK

artmelt is really excited to announce that we are making a custom, hand-bound, book of awesomeness, and we want you to be in it! See the call to artists at the end of the post.

When notions of artmelt first emerged 3 years ago or so, the idea was for it to be a print gallery. So every First Friday there would be this gallery that existed in print.  However, due to procrastination and lack of time and money we figured a blog would be the most tangible way to begin the melting of art.

But alas, the times have changed, and procrastination doesn't stand a chance.  artmelt will be releasing a custom made, hand-bound book, with multiple types of printing and original artworks scattered throughout. Yet, we need your help to fill it with great art, writing, information, name it we want it.

So here we are, doing the typical...we are posting a call to artists, and we might even be able to pay you...maybe. Click on the link below to read the full call to artists.

Link to full call to artists

Deadline is July 30th, 2011 for submissions and you can email your proposals and works to  If you have originals to put in the book then we can arrange a drop off.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunny SF Respite

Artmelt left Missoula for sunny San Francisco this month, and saw two shows, one at Fecal Face Gallery and another at its neighbor Fifty24SF.  FecalFace: Henry Gunderson, a student at the San Fran Art Institute, makes provocative, awesome, confusing, mythological images.  Fifty24SF: Don't know much about Johnny "KMNDZ" Rodriguez but the street art inspired paintings and illustrations are pretty rad.  I left San Francisco saying the word 'radical' a lot...not sure why. Check out the links for more images and stuff.

Henry Gunderson at Fecal Face

 Johnny "KMNDZ" Rodriguez at Fifty24SF

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 University of Montana BFA Senior Thesis Highlights

Adam Lynn - Detail
Check out some of the highlights from this years UM Bachelor of Fine Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition at the Gallery of Visual Arts.  Good work BFA'ers! I would like to tell you to go see all the great works that I didn't photograph, but sadly the show was only up for a terribly short period of time : ( x 1000.
Rachael Jones
Ellie Weber - Let Go
I really liked Hannah Spry's rendition of Little Red Riding Hood
Jose Chavez - "What Some Do For Others" - Detail
Love the surface and character.
Nice landscapes by Riche Carter and a snail by Louis Habeck

Didnt get this guys name but I like the root sound system

El Rico.  The painting skill here is great and the artist statement is one of the best I have ever read by a student
A great little figure. part of the piece title "Shooting at someone who outdrew you" by Rachael Marne Jones

Big truck - vrrooooooom
Adam Lynn - detail

Rachel Marne Jones
Ellie Weber's ceramic sculptures were some of my favorites works in the show.
Hannah Spry
Jose Chavez

Richie Carter
Adam Lynn