World of Wow Craft

Posted September 17, 2009 in Arts & Culture

When most people hear the term “heavy metal,” they think of hard rockin‘, guitar-laden anthems screamed by big-haired dudes dressed in women’s clothes. Or is that just me? Heavy metal can also be a powerful, gritty term, of course, and it’s in this vein that the dA Center for the Arts’ new show finds its own raw, rockin‘ beauty. 


Taking the term literally, the dA exhibit is filled to the girders with all types of metallic offerings—welded sculptures, hammered signs and objects d’art that are both shiny and coarse. One of the more philosophical and striking pieces is Eric Ward’s Emergency Broadcasting System, a completely trashed-out and decaying metal TV casing, the screen gone and insides filled with a pile of what appears to be multicolored globs of discarded acrylic paint. A length of black rubber tubing is attached to the side of the rusted set and connects in the back to a bullet-ridden propane tank, creating a most intriguing post-nuclear viewing experience.


Bob Zoell has installed a series of street signs based on those “No Parking” annoyances we encounter daily, but instead he’s changed the letters around to make pointed remarks on “poverty, misery and death,” as one signs reads. The best of the bunch is War, with the letters broken up in various ways, ending up in the Orwellian line “War All the Time.” Less revolutionary yet actually more aesthetically pleasing are Zoell’s two brushed metal wall art pieces of flat chairs and a picture frame in various positioning, called appropriately enough, Picture Over Chair and Table over Picture.


Curator Rolo Castillo also has three of his own works in the show: Ouch is a life-sized owl with a motorized buzz saw blade poking out of its chest, illuminated by an interior blue light; and a large piece of corrugated metal in a fancy vintage frame called Corrugated Metal Makes You Look Thinner is hilarious and true, actually.


Finally, the kitschy oddball of the group is Poem Booth, which is, in fact, a real telephone booth with a modern phone inside. Dial 1-877-EAT POEM and you can either listen to a previously recorded poem, or you can record a line or two to add to the mass poem project. The inclusion of the booth in the show is legitimate because it is made of metal—but even if it were made of marshmallows, a poem booth is a damn genius idea and there should be one on every street corner.


Over at the Bunny Gunner, Sioux Bally-Maloof heads off in a new direction, adding another layer to the artistically-distinguished Maloof family dynasty. Originally concentrating on traditional art—oil pastels and paintingsthe "The WOW Show" of Native Americans and naturalistic landscapes—Bally-Maloof is now branching out into the abstract world with this new series of monoprints and monotypes that are meant to elicit a response similar to that of the show’s title.


And it might. Bally-Maloof’s departure from her usual routine is an incredibly clean break, and it’s a welcome direction. While her oils are skilled, they’re also things we’ve seen before; safe and traditional, and probably passed over by those in search of something more thought-provoking. 


The new works are splashy, graffiti, street art—wild swirls and splatterings in red and pink, with images of wheel gears, blurry passages from manuscript pages, metal grates and handmade paper. Some of them even have the word “Wow” imprinted on them, a reminder of this artist’s rebirthing into a new medium. 


While they are all fun and fanciful, one piece stands out among the other hip, magazine-type art: Neighborhood is a monotype of soft primary colored blocks stacked together as if they were, indeed, a row of houses or buildings one might see through foggy eyes or from the passenger seat of a quickly passing car. They are stark and clean, and for some reason made me think of The Brady Bunch. Of course, the Bradys were a nice, friendly family, and that neighborhood was always bright and clean, so perhaps it makes sense. And here’s hoping to see more of it in the making from Bally-Maloof’s newly expanding palette.


Sioux Bally-Maloof: “The Wow Show” at Bunny Gunner, 266 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 868-2808; Open Tues–Sat, 10AM-7PM. Thru Oct. 6. Free


“Heavy Metal” at the dA Center for the Arts, 252 S. Main St., Pomona, (909) 397-9716; Wed-Sat, noon-5PM; Thurs, noon-9PM. Thru Sept. 26. Free.


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