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January 23, 2012

Lovely Things – and Lovelier Worlds – at Projects Gallery

About the Author
Erica Minutella

See the exhibition here


In the late nineties, the television show Sliders envisioned a world where traveling through parallel universes would be as simple as flicking a remote control switch. While science may take a while to catch up with fiction, the imaginations of a few local artists have opened their own, much closer doorway into the unfamiliarly familiar.
At Lovely Things, the Bambi Gallery Pop Up Show on display at Projects Gallery through January 28, and curated by Candace Karch, the work of four artists – Jim Garvey, Matthew Osborn, Bonnie Brenda Scott, and Stacey Lee Webber – presents visitors with a meandering trip that strands them in uncharted territory.
Enter the doorway and you’ll be confronted with a room populated by creatures from a Jim Henson production gone wrong. Brought to life by Matthew Osborn, these cartoon monsters shift uncomfortably through their colorfully mundane confrontations with insomnia, boredom, and alcohol abuse. Stripped of the glamor of unreal circumstances, Osborn’s monsters are more likely to inspire pity than fear. At once amusing and quietly unsettling, his creations are also endearingly relatable.
A few steps into the next room will flip you back in time with thoughts of museum-dwelling pressed penny machines, as Philadelphia-based artist Stacey Lee Webber manipulates the traditional geometry of coins. Suspending them in shadow boxes or reworking them into tools, Webber draws attention back to the smallest denomination. While the childhood joy of turning a crank to flatten pennies was grounded in the act itself, Webber’s work draws audiences to the finished product, evoking unexpected shapes from an everyday object so often stripped of defining surfaces as it is passes from hand to hand.
Take a tangential trip downstairs to wind your way through an industrial maze of street art by Jim Garvey. Graffiti-spattered ladders hoist themselves up into the air like tattooed circus performers, juggling the identities of object and art in between flashes of a video installation on the back wall.
Resist the temptation to hold your breath as the back room plunges you into the darkened cosmos of Bonnie Brenda Scott. Skeletal remains crawl their way across the floor’s wasteland, providing an eerie accompaniment to a neon pink monster elevated on plastic crates. Prisms and giant hands, lined like images out of a palmistry textbook, illuminate the walls. Like the grownup rendition of a child’s room covered in glow-in-the-dark decals of the solar system, Scott’s installation presents an extra-dimensional, alchemical universe that might leave you in need of terrestrial reorientation.
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