Franklin Einspruch

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Come and get it: All You Can Eat, at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, takes a bite out of consumer society

Street Weekly, August 19, 2004

Samantha Salzinger and her curatorial daring have made the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood one of the livelier visual arts destinations in South Florida. Her latest effort, All You Can Eat, exhibits the work of Gavin Perry and Mette Tommerup of Miami with Sue Irion of Basel, Switzerland. A smorgasbord of images, the show, if not altogether even, is eye-filling, and surprisingly satisfying.

All You Can Eat is built around notions of consumer culture, but the art in the show relates to this theme only tangentially. Really, the work just looks good together, as all three artists share a fondness for mechanical or industrial methods of manufacture.

Irion's work is the most problem-plagued. She takes snapshot-style images of touristy areas (like South Florida) and renders them onto surfaces that have been covered with flourescent-pigment-infused photo emulsion. Where it works, it works well: black lights illuminate the images and make them look holographic, dimensional, and raw. Where it doesn't, things are hard to see. The canvases, placed upright on the floor to form a maze of sorts, would appear stronger if they were hung at eye level. In another installation, a wide, pink image of a street scene is applied directly to the wall in a room where a mini-bar has been placed. The image is attractive, but the mini-bar does not relate.

Mette Tommerup composes photo-based images using digital tools, with which she warps, flares, and colors bubble-like shapes and copies them into repeating arrangements. The best of them, such as Under Light (Red), recall stage sets from '60s-era sci-fi shows, are filled with bulging shapes that glow with weird computerized light.

A series of circular images, all entitled Orb Passage, depict decorative but uncomfortable geometric landscapes, some of which have been populated with figures that get elongated and twisted by the strange physics of their environment. The individual pieces would have more punch if there were fewer of them fighting for space on the wall. Nevertheless, Tommerup's work shows flair and potential.

The same goes for the recent sculptures by Gavin Perry. Using auto-painting techniques, he creates seamless, iridescent surfaces crossed with automotive striping. Perry'spaintings combine the rigor of minimalist abstraction with the fun of playing with Hot Wheels cars. An excellent diptych entitled Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun features sparkly fields of white punctuated with bands of copper that angle slightly away from each other, creating a perspectival effect with the wall itself.

The sculptures, despite the same meticulous craftsmanship, don't snap together like the paintings. Perry thinks like a painter, and has difficulty making an object that works convincingly from more than one or two viewpoints. The notable exception is Disarm the Sexes, a low, laminated box outfitted with a set of bull's horns and red neon lights, which is too strange to ignore. Perry's way-out take on his materials exemplifies what's best about this show: shaky but sometimes surprising artistic moves.

All You Can Eat may not be the artistic equivalent of haute cuisine, but, like the hot, heaping blue plate special at your favorite diner, it's worth a trip.

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