This past Friday I was driving toward Decatur to attend an art opening at my friend Elliott Boswell’s gallery, an opening featuring nudes. The hook? Naked models being body painted and free “nude” martinis. As I navigated the twisty turns of Ponce from Atlanta toward Decatur I called a few art department people I expected to see there, to see what time they expected to make it… you know, driving chatter. Of course none of them answered so I left one of my trademark annoying fake messages for each of them, cranking up Album 88‘s 400bpm dance music show on my car radio and pretending that I was already at the gallery, well into my 18th free vodka. As it turns out, that little bit of theater was fairly accurate insofar as far as the pulsing dance music went…. by the time I got there it was fairly well a rave!
While standing in line for one of those nude martinis (which I kept accidentally calling “nipple” martinis) I heard a college kid in line behind me talking to his friends on the phone, giving them directions to the gallery. My first thought was that the focus of the event (the art) had been wildly surpassed by the happening-ness of the show. My second thought was that the kids would leave as soon as the alcohol ran dry, never having seen the artwork on the walls at all (the place was literally shoulder-to-shoulder, easily the biggest opening Elliott has had in the 11 months the gallery has been open).
My third (and most important thought) was that “Hey, why am I judging these kids… I haven’t even looked at the art myself!! What a hypocrite I am– hey, can I have another nipple martini?” With martini in hand (I think they were giving me watered-down lemonade the entire time) I began sliding along the walls of the gallery to see the artwork, and I was actually impressed with much of what I saw, a few of which I’ll mention here:
Rory Powers. If you’re a serious art collector you need to buy one of Rory’s paintings. He’s good, very good. I understand that he’s involved with costume design on/off Broadway and he has a knack for capturing/caricaturing attitudes. He’s next on my list of artists I’d like to collect, hope that he has something teeny-tiny that I might afford.
John Tindel. John’s graphic style catches my eye, partially because it’s very much of the nature of my own way of approaching illustration/painting with oils and acrylics. I was happy to get to meet John at the gallery and he seemed fairly happy to be getting to paint a young woman who was there as one of the nude (GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!) models who made the events such a splash with the Jezebel Magazine socialite set.
Ellen King. Ellen was painting a male model who was wearing a gladiator-style getup but she was far more interesting to look at as she was dressed as a goth angel in a Betty Page wig and lacy underthings. I can’t remember if I found her paintings on the wall because I needed another nippralatini…
Charles McCarthy. Charles worked in the office on “Remember the Interns” or “We Are Interns” or whatever that latest Warner Brothers movie was that finished shooting here recently. Charles’ work is pen and ink nudes of women who would be best described as archetypal earth-mother figures. Interestingly, none of his inks were repros, they were all originals. If you like his work this would be a great time to grab originals for which there are no reproductions.
There were a couple of other artists whose work I really liked but I can’t remember their names at this moment, I’ll post a follow-up comment with their names if I get a chance.
Mostly, hanging nudes in your home is a tricky, tricky thing. People react so strangely to nudes that most people eschew them for safer works in fear that their guests will label them as ‘kinky’. Interesting how things change from age to age. I’ll be impressed if Elliott is able to sell most of the paintings from this show but I’ll tell you, there are some real gems on his gallery walls and even if you didn’t make the show you should consider dropping by to look at the works because some of the artists on his wall may never again wander back into the range of nudes and those paintings may be more valuable for their rarity. I’m thinking now of Leann Zafuto and Elliott Boswell himself, both of who prepared works expressly for this show.