10th YEAR ANNIVERSARY SHOW Through February 28; Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Trifecta Gallery, 366-7001.
In February 2004, Marty Walsh hammered a nail in an Arts Factory wall. Her mandate: to offer Las Vegas smart, affordable art. In the last decade, she’s exhibited more than 130 artists, and 34 of her best and brightest are spotlighted in the impressive 10th Year Anniversary Show at Trifecta Gallery.
Vibrant and droll, intriguing and intimate, the 44 small-format works display significant stylistic range. From Lowbrow to Minimalism to Pop to Pattern & Decoration to Surrealism to Postmodernism to Op Art and beyond, the paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures catalog trends often found in West Coast art making. They also reflect a shift in gallery direction, toward more abstract, conceptual work and away from the Pop figuration of Trifecta’s founding. And yet coherency reigns. The pieces mostly hang agreeably, even synchronistically, together, often sharing a kind of optimistic wit.
Take, for example, Victoria Reynolds’ exaggerated “Veil of Flesh” painting, which depicts a magnified slab of raw meat flaunting a lacey fibrous architecture. The creepy carnal close-up doesn’t quite register though—the colors are too bright, the lines too lyrical, the Rococo frame recalling idealized bourgeois portraiture. The result is less a vindication of vegetarianism than it is a humorous reminder of the stuff that we ourselves are made of.
Comic incongruity is one of the hallmarks of the anniversary show. Among works that seem to be one thing but wittily transform into another are Tom Pfannerstill’s faux work gloves, Sam Davis’ “Tragic Heroes” documentation, Andreana Donahue’s faux branch with fishhook and (Weekly writer) Kristen Peterson’s pipe-cleaner deer trophy. Lee Bakofsky’s “Maybe” goes a step further, translating a visual concept into a linguistic paradox: His no-nonsense, sans serif “No” paintings struggle to hold their own beneath a languorously confident, cursive “yes” made of sausages. Similarly, Alisha Kerlin’s small “Nudes” puns on weirdly anthropomorphic fishing lures.
Among recent Trifecta artists moving into more abstract terrain, Philip Denker is a standout. His “Untitled” bas relief is a beautifully textured work constructed from Gatorfoam and Sintra PVC Foam. Denker uses saws to slice the foam into a smooth, but visually complex, geometric surface that seems to hinge in and out of space, with planes that disappear into the depth of field and project toward the viewer in an illusionary syncopated rhythm.
While some of the hanging feels a little crowded—Wendy Kveck’s nervy celebrity drawing in clashing colors seems a bit hemmed in—10th Year Anniversary Show avoids the rambling, diffuse feel that plagues large group exhibits. Not only has Trifecta Gallery lasted for 10 years in a tough market, it continues to stay fresh, relevant and vital.