Charles Schulz meets abstract art

This is what happens when high- and lowbrow collide

Can you see Peppermint Patty’s hair?


Ellsworth Peanuts by Ripper Jordan
September 25-December 18.
MCQ Fine Art, 620 S. Seventh St.
Ripper Jordan

If the idea of mashing up high- and lowbrow in visual art is no longer especial-ly adventurous, the results of doing so can still be fun and thinky. Look at this piece, “EP V,” from the exhibit Ellsworth Peanuts, by local art collective Ripper Jordan. It’s abstract, (just like real art!), a scatter of random calligraphic lines that, while windblown to one side of the circular canvas, have still landed in an eye-pleasing arrangement. But what if, as you look at it, we say these two words: “Peppermint Patty.” Bam! You see it now, don’t you? It’s a close-up of her hair! And so by mixing influences of vastly different cultural pedigrees—the color and abstract approach of legendary artist Ellsworth Kelly and the draftsmanship of Charles Schulz—the three members of Ripper Jordan have arrived at Ellsworth Peanuts. Sure, it’s funny, agrees collective member Sean Slattery; but there’s something else going on. You probably think of abstract art as what Slattery terms “a negation of source material”—that is, that, being abstract, it relates to nothing in the world. But, Slattery points out, Kelly based his paintings on things he’d actually seen—“a shadow, a plant”—and thus Ellsworth Peanuts embraces its source material with both a high-art appreciation and a pop-culture gusto. There are other images in the series. Attend Friday’s opening and see if you can guess who’s who.

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Scott Dickensheets

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