Jack the Pelican is thrilled to present "Oh!," the New York solo debut of young Israeli artist Elisheva Levy.
In "Oh!," Levy creates a swath of sweet blue graffiti sky on slippery, shiny panels across the gallery's floor. Viewers come upon a moment of mutual surprise, as the artist appears to have just suddenly fled upon discovery, leaving behind the spray-cans of her idling wonder. Upon closer inspection, however, these cans reveal themselves as beautifully constructed paper fabrications.
"Oh!" appears in the sky as though formed from skeins of spray cloud, a faint blip of wondrous surprise. With it, Levy registers a moment of discovery that is her own--of creative exuberance, as though of unexpected orgasm--and of her sudden self-conscious realization of our interrupting presence, which sends her into hiding in embarrassment.
Levy typically works three-dimensionally in paper. Past works include full-scale renditions of a baby grand piano and a 'Just Married' Alfa Romeo getaway car, emblems of a happy traditional bourgeois life. She sleeks down the complications of their forms into a fresh modern language of fragile minimalism. But the beauty of innocent girlish enthusiasm thinly veils an overweening sense of sadness and loss. Something deeper is at work.
Israeli news service Haaretz champions Elisheva Levy's current installation in the Herzliya Biennial of Contemporary Art in Israel as a notable contribution. In addition, she was recently featured in "FIRST LOOK II: the best of the new artists in the U.S." at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art. She is currently an MFA candidate at the Yale School of Art in sculpture (expected 2008).
BRUCE CONKLE - Lament for Middle Kingdom
Jack the Pelican is pleased to present stalwart of the revolution, Bruce Conkle. De facto king of the Pacific NW eco art geeks and self-styled "misfit at the crossroads," he creates "Lament for Middle Kingdom Earth," a quirky eco-absurd installation that restages contemporary ideas about nature and community in a pre-modern world of fairytale landscape.
Conkle is the proverbial stranger come to heal the village with a whacky old prospector's assortment of things, mostly of the detritus kind, and mis-wired ancient magic spells that can never in a million years actually work.
He launches his exhibition at the opening by blowing his 12-foot Alphorn and playing with puppets. The show is laced with bits of meteorite. In the background are mountains of cardboard--Alps, if you please, where he comes from, being half Swiss by descent--and also 'them thar hills,' source of the lore of sasquatch and gingerbread houses and the like, all of which have been his mainstay of interest over the years. Rivers of Pepto-Bismol flow. A shovel dissolves in a decorative woof of fancy. A snowman drowns himself ( Suicide Snowman ). And dancing overhead are visions of a coconut planet spaceship with Superman crystal-colony cities.
Returning from an exhibition earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro, Conkle caught "a lot of buzz amongst the other artists" writes the definitive Portland art Blog, Port ( Portlandart.net ), "for some kind of hypnotic coconut soundsystem." The coconut for Conkle doubles as a planetary orb, transposed into a hyper lo-tech science fiction. Cast adrift on celestial currents, it is a clunky figment of 'tropicalistic Gilliganism,' seeking new islands of opportunity.
The Pacific NW is interspersed with more undeveloped areas of wilderness than we in the Eastern corridor have suburbs or post-industrial wastelands and Conkle, like many of the region's artists, likes to gets dirty in them. But, he doesn't ooh and ah about the grand, sublime or noble qualities of all this beauty, like a tourist might or a traditional American landscape painter. To his way of thinking, nature in the pure sense is a modern scientific idea, a utopian fantasy or a marketing conceit. He plods around in these mountains and forests more the way a little boy takes over the woods behind his house--with mischief and glee. For him, it's very much more personal. His sardonic wiles are wicked, like so much laughter at the funeral. Conkle parallels other contemporary West Coast allegorists of dysfunction and abuse, like Mike Kelly or Paul McCarthy. Brutal, greedy, selfish, hungry man consumes his resources and then some more. It is a thorough mix up of pleasure and horror, naturally.
Conkle is cofounder with Marne Lucas of BlingLab ( http://blinglab.us/ ), whose uproarious productions include last year's much-celebrated puppet epic "The Untold Adventures of Lewis and Clark." A favorite among artists, Conkle has had numerous solo exhibitions throughout the Pacific Northwest, mostly in alternative spaces, and has shown in New York and Philadelphia and at the Living Art Museum in Iceland and A Gentil Carioca in Rio de Janeiro.
Micah J. Malone writes in "If We Ran the Whitney:"
Conkle's work seems to suggest that no matter how isolated one wants to live, their life is still subject to commodification. Living in Portland, OR, Conkle has received some recent attention appearing in public buildings and temporary spaces. It's about time the New York world gave him some attention as well.
And, of his Snowman, Steven Psyllos writes in NY Arts Magazine "Notes From Art Basel, Miami Beach":
Across the board, Jack the Pelican was the most interesting setup (once again). Guerra de la Paz and Bruce Conkle both presented sculptures that were easily the coolest pieces I saw all weekend.