Weekend Almighty: Notes from Nov. 10-12

THIS WEEKEND was happily, potently struck by poetry and art โ€” and was also the fulfillment of a kind of secret, slightly desperate, subterranean hope hatched earlier in the week. This requires rewinding to Monday, Nov. 7.

Which was a fraught day, to say the least, clouded by election anxieties โ€” sure, anxieties specific to the election and, donโ€™t you know, awesome, a free-floating bonus set of larger, anamorphic anxieties about What It All Means for Whose America Is It Anyway? I chose to bail on my smoggy headspace with a bit of escapism โ€” literally escaping to UNLVโ€™s Artemus Ham Hall for a small reception to welcome an exhibit of a suite of important pieces from acclaimed โ€” it is not an abuse of hyperbole, I think, to say legendary โ€” Nevada artist Rita Deanin Abbey.

THE RECEPTION marked a change in seasons, usually hard to come by here: They served hot chocolate. The Abbey art, on display through May 2023, was unseasonal in that sense, but not unwelcome. What I mean is that her paintings such as the hypnotic โ€œWoman in the Surfโ€ have a kind of glittering sensuality that invokes beachside protocol like shading your eyes, involuntarily smiling into something bright. Beyond that, I always scrutinize a little bit: I can report that the brushstrokes are all artistโ€™s brushstrokes, if that makes sense. Commanding and unself-conscious.

Hope and relief propel to Thursday. Went to a poetry reading by Anthony Cody at Black Mountain Institute HQ at UNLV. (Disclosure: gf works at BMI.) Cody is an experimental poet, but more importantly, he is an explosive poet in that he leverages various visual conceits โ€” diagrams, marginalia, graphs, the modality of the technical and bureaucratic โ€” to explode them for the bitter historic truth beneath. Maybe even the mystical: By readingโ€™s end, we had a group incantation going with Cody as poet-conductor. It felt good and I was down with it.

Friday and Saturday were spent with two separate local artists who propose an interesting polarity. At Core Contemporary, Zoe Camperโ€™s black and white drawings bore obsessive devotion to rendering a very personal, imagined world. She methodically and painstakingly scritches out detailed line portraits of โ€œCallers,โ€ imagined beings bursting from beneath Strip casinos. They look primal and grim in their bug-eyed ferocity, but Camper says theyโ€™re benevolent entities. She also explained her rationale for sealing her work with cryptographic signatures. I donโ€™t remember the rationale, but I like the idea of publicly authenticating an intensely private vision. Also, look closely at her work: Sheโ€™s scratching off almost as much as sheโ€™s scratching on. It gives the work a neurotic, devotional, vibrating stillness.

AN ART COLLECTOR emailed me with some enthused urgency: Go check out Brian Gibsonโ€™s Boytoy Summer work at Inside Style Saturday. Harumphed, got dinner plans, no can do, wagh wagh.1 Squeezed in a visit and, yeah, now I blog at you with some enthused urgency: Go check out Brian C. Gibsonโ€™s Boytoy Summer work. He is young and inseparable from his art, which I suppose is a way of saying his messy, absorptive, zany abstract paintings are less objects than incidental captures of projective activity, a process, as they say. Theyโ€™re also colorful, undisciplined by any external logic, and utterly guileless. I want to say this last part carefully: I suspect he has no idea what heโ€™s doing. By that I mean that’s because I suspect that in his painting heโ€™s not doing something โ€” or doing anything. Heโ€™s being something. That is natural, and rare.

Photo: Work by Brian C. Gibson/Andrew Kiraly

Somewhere in all this I also managed a visit to Ralph Jones Display, a flocked and foiled kitsch eruption masquerading as a Christmas store. It also happens to be a local institution.

Andrew Kiraly

Andrew Kiraly

Andrew Kiraly is publisher of TheList.Vegas.

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