Thursday, December 9, 2010

April, 2010

Nestled between The Highland Inn and Café di Sol in Highland Row in the Poncey-Highland area of Midtown is Youngblood Gallery. Claiming to be “the foremost independent showcase in Atlanta for emerging and Do-It-Yourself crafters,” the gallery and boutique thrives with almost every inch of the brightly lit showroom eclectically covered in some form of papercraft, pottery or painting. A narrow hallway at the back of the showroom opens into the white wall, high ceilinged gallery space. Tacked and hung along the white plaster walls were the prints and masks of Dennis McNett, and prints and ink designs of John Reardon.

Hailing from New York, Virginia-born artist McNett draws influence from the 80s skateboard scene, 70s punk movement, Native American art and Day of the Dead designs. His work has been featured in Juxtapoz Magazine, Thrasher and Complex Magazine and The New York Times, and he has deisgned skateboard graphics for Anti-Hero and Vans shoes. He now works as a printmaking professor at Pratt Institute (where he received his Masters of Fine Arts.)

His media of choice—wood blocks and ink—showed his incredible design talent and eye for detail in such prints as “Noose Tree” and “Leopardsnake.” Both used fluidity and boldness of line and an intensity that immediately drew me in. McNett’s most impressive work, “Snow Leopard and Goat,” a remarkable 44 inch by 84 inch tapestry-size print, depicted a snarling, savage leopard crouching atop an expressionless goat, its legs twisted at impossible angles, seemingly broken by the great cat. He described it as a “suicide print,” an apt description as it was carved and printed from one large wood block.

“I use animals as people,” said McNett. “My prints are narratives that are not so much about expression but telling a story.”

In addition to his many animal prints, a set of five skateboard decks for Anti-Hero and three plaster, ceramic and glass masks he created for the Resurrection of Fenris as part of the 2007 Deitch Art Parade in New York.

Reardon, also from New York, works as a tattoo artist at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn. He also attended Pratt and has done hundreds of body art designs.

“I do art because of the Three Fs,” said Reardon. “Fun, finance and… girls.”

His “Three Fs” philosophy is apparent in his work, most of which seemed to have been copied from a 15 year old boy’s binder, and show heavy sampling of Ed Hardy designs—bold red hearts wrapped in scripture and stabbed through with daggers. To put it nicely, most of his pieces were painful clichés. However, there were a few, namely the two pen and ink drawings “The Social Elite Print” and “Two Headed Cobra,” that were able to even compete with McNett’s impressive prints.

Before leaving, I bought a screen-printed forest green t-shirt with one of McNett’s skull and rose designs and a handmade notebook from the boutique. I have to say the show was a success, despite Reardon’s unoriginal and unexciting pieces, and I will be returning to Youngblood for future shows.

No comments:

Post a Comment