October brings illustrations both satiric and sublime, an out-of-body experience, and a film installation that is perfectly timed for this uneasy season. For more artistic chills and thrills, here are the month’s unmissable art happenings:
“Out of Body,” various artists at Level Gallery
Opening reception: October 13, 7-10 pm
Meet the artists reception: October 15, noon-5 pm
Exhibition dates: October 13-December 21
Fashion and art get a bit of a mash-up this month in Level Gallery’s “living project,” curated by owner Brandy Michele Adams. A mix of up-and-coming fashion illustrator Ruben Burgess Jr.’s couture-influenced sketches; the wearable rope art of Seth Damm, aka Neon Zinn; and stylist’s K.J. Moody’s conceptual eye, the exhibit includes sculpture, installation, and photographs — even a performance from The Voice finalist Dana Harper — that aim to take viewers out of their own heads and beyond their inhibitions.
“We thought, ‘Why aren’t we bringing fashion, art, and form together?’ ” says Adams of her concept for the show. “They resonate and blend on many different levels, but they speak in a different way. We wanted to show how these elements are tied not just in their singular form, but also in this dynamic collaboration. We’re asking people to come into the body of the gallery, then allowing them to have a transcendence that lets them go out of their body.”
For Burgess, who has only shown his true flowing forms under his nom de plume Instagram handle Satorialnolift, this debut gallery show is an opportunity to examine his combination of style and sketch outside of the virtual world.
“Abundant Plains,” Casey Gray and Clark Goolsby at Circuit 12
Opening reception: October 15, 6-9 pm
Exhibition dates: October 15-November 15
San Francisco-based Casey Gray upends the concept of a still life by crafting his vivid paintings of flowers and fruit with aerosol spray paint and adhesive tracing paper. Think of his canvases as a street-art influenced, millennial version of “pronkstilleven,” the particularly baroque take on the genre beloved by the 17th-century Dutch.
Seemingly touchable and super-flat at the same time, the relative realism of these pieces makes them just right for a short-attention-span generation. But Gray’s technique is more intensive than it may first appear.
“Since my last show at Circuit 12 in 2014, my work has evolved to a point of even greater realism, not only in style but in subject matter,” says the artist. “I’ve begun to expand my visual vocabulary by introducing multiple specialty products into the paintings such as aerosol molding paste, crackle, marble, and glitter spray paints. The addition of new textures, extreme attention to detail, and overall conceptual foundation of this new show puts these works on a whole other level than before.”
Also featured in “Abundant Plains” are the geometric shapes and splashes that adorn Carl Goolsby’s collaged canvases, which are complementary (and just a little contradictory) when viewed next to Gray’s energetic paintings.
“Kult Klassic,” Heyd Fontenot at Conduit Gallery
Opening reception: October 21, 5:30-8 pm
Exhibition dates: October 21-November 26
Best known for his slightly surreal nudes of friends and acquaintances, Heyd Fontenot is taking his practice into the third dimension for his third solo show at Conduit Gallery. Folding in a film project he’s been working on for the last four years, he’s built an interior for the gallery that serves as a kind of fraternal clubhouse for the fictitious motorcycle gang that stars in his twist on Jack Smith’s experimental film Flaming Creatures.
“He did Flaming Creatures, so I did Flaming Critters,” says Fontenot with a laugh. “I have to put a hillbilly spin on anything I do. It’s an inhabited installation — I’ve got these painted panels, and furniture I’ve redone, and wallpaper that’s like a string of Rorschach ink-blot tests. It’s like being part of the Oddfellows or the Masons, but it’s this motorcycle gang where they only have two motorcycles.”
Delving further into his themes of America’s complicated relationship with its sexuality, Fontenot’s exploitation cinema “subverts the maschismo routine” in a way that may be liberating for some, frightening for others.
“We always need a Communist or a Muslim or a homosexual to scare us, and that’s what I’m doing with this film,” Fontenot explains “I’m trying to scare you, but also showing how absurd it is to be afraid. I take on my work as a fictional author, because I’ve got a lot to say and a lot of big fantasy here.”
Blake Wright at V.O.D. Boutique
Opening reception: October 27, 6-9 pm
Exhibition dates: Ongoing
There are no sacred cows in the work of Blake Wright, and that’s a good thing. The web designer-turned-artist takes on Looney Tunes, high fashion, and corporate iconography with equal verve, and his ability to infuse classic symbols and design with quirky humor has garnered attention from the likes of now-friend and collaborator Jeremy Scott.
Launching his blog eight years ago allowed Wright to turn his hobby into a full-time gig, with the added help of an influential Instagram profile. His drawings have since appeared in the pages of Ginza magazine, in prints for Moschino, and online at Opening Ceremony and Refinery29.com.
“For me, social media has been the greatest tool because it has provided me direct access to other creative people. While Scott may be the most prominent, he’s by no means the first — I’ve met so many photographers and illustrators. It gives you instant access to them.”
For his October pop-up exhibit, Wright is diving into “a giant stack of everything I’ve ever drawn that hasn’t sold,” plus some oversized pieces he’s particularly excited about, all of which should look perfectly at home hanging among the racks of designer clothes.
Showing his pieces in a fashion environment makes sense for Wright, who says, “the V.O.D. woman gets my work, these are the brands they love. I’m a funny person, so I find the humor in a lot of industries — this just happens to be my favorite one.”