Press / 20090514 / Star Tribune / Mplsart
Press for More is a Four Letter Word. An Art-A-Whirl exhibition held at Fox Tax in 2009
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Press / 20090514 / Star Tribune / Mplsart
Art: Youth Quake in Northeast
By Mary Abbe, Star Tribune
May 14, 2009
Photo by Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune / Emma Berg with art by Tynan Kerr and Andie Mazorol at the Fox Tax Gallery as part of
the annual Art-A-Whirl, a weekend of open studios, performances and parties in NE Minneapolis.
Smart types have always paired art with something more commercially promising, especially in Minneapolis where there is a long
tradition of art galleries cum hair salons, frame shops, ad agencies, architecture firms and now tax prep. Three-years-old and thriving,
Fox Tax Gallery is staging a new show, "More Is a Four Letter Word," opening as part of this weekend's Art-a-Whirl celebration.
Located in a one-time felt factory at 503 1st Av. NE., Fox Tax is conveniently located a few blocks from the Mississippi, where
Northeast gentrification blends into the neighborhood's more bohemian precincts. Proprietors Alyssa and Mark Fox are accountants
specializing in services to artists and musicians, so it seemed only natural to make a gallery in the front end of their bare-brick offices.
Guest curator Emma Berg, a fashionista with a 10-year track record in human resources at Target, picked five young artists as a sample
of the kind of talent that fills the lofts and warehouses of Northeast. More than 500 neighborhood artists, musicians, photographers,
sculptors and performers will throw open their studios this weekend in an annual ritual of commerce and camaraderie that attracts
thousands of revelers. Berg loves the excitement of Art-a-Whirl, but wanted to concentrate and distill the otherwise sprawling event.
"Art-a-Whirl doesn't have many curated shows so it's a chance to focus, and it's an amazing opportunity to put some new artists out there
to be seen," Berg said. The show's title is an ironic nod to the recession, which seems to have put a useful cap on conspicuous
consumption and "all that vulgarity," she said. But at the same time, "We can't stop making art or enjoying culture; we have to go
With its track lighting, leather banquettes and well-worn floors gleaming under fresh varnish, Fox Tax has a comfortable ambience for
its up-to-the-minute art. The "More" five are a trendy bunch of recent art-school grads whose paintings have the signature look of young
art today -- colorful, winsome, artfully unfinished, illustrational and/or accented with Pop culture and art historical allusions.
Even so, there are five different styles on display, or rather four different styles since
two of the artists, Tynan Kerr and Andie Mazorol, collaborate on every painting. At
about 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide, their largest is a high-gloss peach-green-and-blue scene
of snakes slithering through a crowd of men in casual wear. Their smaller fantasy
portraits vaguely suggest perhaps Humpty Dumpty, Queen Victoria, Hitler, a masked
Indian. Or perhaps not.
"They're very loose, washy portraits of people who are just barely there, in a lot of
Art by Alex Kuno
senses," said Kerr. "They feel sort of magical to us."
Magic seems to permeate all of the show's paintings in different ways. Alex Kuno describes his narrative images as "dark, surreal
improvised fairy tales." Tapping into the overactive imagination he nurtured growing up in Anoka, he has created a fascinating series of
slightly ghoulish but winsome images of children facing nasty perils -- dragon, bear trap, arrow attack -- with plucky bravado. Often
wearing animal costumes, the children are frequently caught in archetypal plights from literature or legend including scenes derived
from the lives of Saints George and Sebastian.
"It's about the intersection between adult responsibilities and the anxieties and fears of children, and how adult decisions are always
based on those fears and dreams," Kuno said.
Zach Pearl, a Des Moines native who graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in
2006, is making his Art-a-Whirl debut with "Archipelago," a series of surrealistic, multilayered
color-pencil drawings on mylar and vellum of mountainous forms with human features -- shaggy
hair, mouths, branch-like arms. Adrift in seas of white space, the mountains trail "roots" reminiscent
of jellyfish tentacles. Pearl sees them as "psychological portraits," in which the "personality on the
surface doesn't necessarily coordinate with the personality below the surface."
Garrett Perry, who last year graduated from St. Paul's College of Visual Art, is participating in Art-
a-Whirl for the first time. For income, Perry relies on his job as art director and web designer at Cal
Surf in Uptown, but at heart he's a painter. His mostly tablet-sized images are doodlish vignettes of
colorful balloon and umbrella shapes spiced occasionally with juicy Pop-style lips, or heads in
which faces have been replaced by pastel spheres -- as if the images were materializing through a
glass of bubble tea. His hazy impression of Michael Jackson is a shy nod to celebrity portraitist
Elizabeth Peyton, whose current show at Walker Art Center moved him.
"I'm really inspired by Elizabeth Peyton's colors, and am drawn to portraits, but mine are abstract
portraits and forms," said Perry who also admires the work of Neo Rauch, Luc Tuymans, Daniel
Art by Garrett Perry Richter, Gerhard Richter and the Leipzig School of German post-realist painters.
If Perry and company are evidence, painting seems to be enjoying a comeback among younger artists after more than a decade in which
it was overshadowed by photography, video and installation art.
"I'm only 24 and only out of school for a year, so I'm by no means an authority," Perry said, "but I do think there is a lot of painting
going on in the area. Friends are interested in it and there's a general slowing down to appreciate just fun little gems of painting."
Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431