Five Through September 10; Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, noon-5 p.m. UNLV's Barrick Museum, 702-895-3381.
The Barrick Museum does it again. The fresh and zesty Five presents work by five recent UNLV artists-in-residence based in LA, New York and Brooklyn. Co-curated by Aurore Giguet and Alisha Kerlin, Five includes paintings, photographs, installations, sculptures and videos representing a range of contemporary art tendencies—conceptual to concrete.
Deborah Aschheim and Erin Cosgrove begin with concept and move to materials. Both artists are interested in the vagaries of history. Aschheim transforms recollections of idealized, mid-century architecture into large sculptural objects made from translucent-white corrugated plastic and interior LED lighting. The sculptures might look like architectural models, but they’re haunting hybrids of representation and memory conveying an uncanny, otherworldly presence. It’s almost as if they functioned as memory theaters, the fictive mnemonic devices that obsessed the ancients.
Cosgrove takes aim at manipulations of history and power in two interesting videos and a vibrant suite of polychrome basswood sculptures. Her 15-minute short, The March of History, spoofs Masterpiece Theatre, complete with a mustachioed Brit declaiming the virtues of oppression. Witty, erudite and resonant, the videos contextualize Cosgrove’s “Urfather” sculptures, five mash-up “portraits” of the Founding Fathers depicted as composite deities. With their garish colors and unbecoming poses—Jefferson has a billowing scrotum—the sculptures protest misrepresentation of brilliant, Enlightenment men as xenophobic, fundamentalist Tea Party patriots.
Other Five artists take a more material approach. Ash Ferlito’s work looks casual, but is far from it. In “The Propaganda of Individuality,” she safety-pins embroidered badges into a shape-shifting cape of questionable identities. Her textile sculptures push badge motifs into pop terrain, while her delicate, humorous paintings on unfinished canvas offer political critique. David Gilbert’s 50-by-30-inch photos have a Victorian air, although they’re dramatic “portraits” of his own ephemeral sculptures, while his gorgeous 80-by-60-inch works deliver complex patterns in scaled-up, Alice in Wonderland still lifes. Lucky DeBellevue also exhibits fascination with repeated patterns in a buoyant installation that extends his painting from canvas to wall. His geometrical exuberance blends tribalism with decoration, craft with art. Patterns repeat imperfectly, resulting in a spirited immersion into human mark-making.
Five encompasses a variety of artistic styles without becoming a jumbled survey show. What these artists have in common is ownership of talent and process-based aesthetics that yield remarkable results.