Political Art Show at BCA Center: The Lighter, the Better | Live Culture

Please support our work!

Donate  Advertise

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Political Art Show at BCA Center: The Lighter, the Better

Posted By on Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM

You can have yourself a very leftist Christmas at the BCA Center’s “Reference for Radicals” show. It features work by a dozen local artists who have given visual expression to political terms included in a booklet on “movement building” that was compiled for this project.

 Many of the terms — such as direct action, Occupy movement and empowerment — will be readily familiar to most viewers. Definitions are probably unnecessary, but the show’s organizers provide them anyway. They also present a lot of amateurish art. But a few professionally executed pieces make it worth visiting a show that runs through January 8.

The most artistically successful work in the exhibit is its least explicitly political. (That combination will not surprise aesthetes who regard “political art” as an oxymoron.) Carol MacDonald’s monoprint etching of a flock of birds encircling a piece of red fabric — or possibly a bloody gash — is correlated to the term “vigil,” though it’s not clear why. The birds appear to be about to pull and peck at the object; it’s not as though they’re bearing silent witness to whatever it is.

But the apparent disconnect between word and image won’t interfere with viewers’ appreciation of MacDonald’s skill.

Gregg Blasdel's wood-block print of the term “radical” (pictured above) also attracts attention. It’s rendered in red, of course, but the jazzy elegance of the lettering isn’t the styling one would expect for this term. The jumbled clump of shapes directly above the word may be seen as more in keeping with the accompanying definition, which says radicals call for “fundamental, often extreme, altering of political, economic and social structures and relationships.”

One problem with many shows of this sort is their unrelenting seriousness. So coming upon Andrea Swan’s “But I Don’t Look Mexican, Do I?” is akin to hearing a funny joke at a consciousness-raising session.

Swan has arranged three small boxes, their front sides open, along the mantel of an unused fireplace in the BCA Center’s second-floor Lorraine B. Good Room. Each contains Mexican skeleton figures like those displayed on the Day of the Dead. Swan’s figures aren’t lifeless, however; they’re busily performing household chores. Her assemblages are more mordant than maudlin.

Jerry Geier’s “Real People” is likewise the product of a lively artistic imagination. He presents a foldout book of the kind common in young children’s literature — only this one is ceramic, not paper or cardboard. Especially beguiling are the molded characters who pop up from the top of the book or protrude, smiling, from its pages.

Light-heartedness again produces aesthetic success, in contrast to the grim earnestness that makes many of the other pieces in “Reference for Radicals” more a duty than a pleasure to look at.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact [email protected].

About The Author

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley

Kevin J. Kelley is a contributing writer for Seven Days, Vermont Business Magazine and the daily Nation of Kenya.

Latest in Live Culture

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2024 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation