Say It, Don't Spray It

In "Quixotic," graffiti artists tilt at the windmills of legitimacy

The fliers for the art show "Quixotic," which opens this Sunday, thoughtfully provide a definition of the show's title, to aid the less-bookish of us: "adj. Extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary; impractical." The dictionary adds a term, as well: "idealistic." It's those qualities that curator Matt Dickson says drive the six artists involved with "Quixotic."

"We're shooting for something better, something that's not possible," the lanky, black-clad 24-year-old says offhandedly. "It's in our works and what we're trying to accomplish -- a good artist is always idealizing."

The concept may be to strive toward unattainable goals, but visitors to "Quixotic" will find a collection of works on display that is unassailable.

Autumn, a charcoal and ink wash panel by Matt Dickson appears in this week's opening of "Quixotic."
Autumn, a charcoal and ink wash panel by Matt Dickson appears in this week's opening of "Quixotic."

Details

Runs from Sunday, November 18, to December 17th. An opening reception is set 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday, November 18. Call 480-768-9800.
Lucky Dragon, McClintock and Southern in Tempe

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The artists -- Dickson, Lalo Cota, Armando Rascon, Isaac Fainkujen, Miles MacGregor, and Pablo Luna -- are all veterans of the Valley's graffiti scene, having spent years surreptitiously painting "throw ups" and "pieces" in public spaces. But don't come expecting spray paint and graf work; there will be none of that. The artists' roots may be in Krylon cans and freight trains, but "Quixotic" is their proving ground in the legit art world. "It's kind of the point of this show," Dickson says. "I want the work to be judged on its own merits."

Dickson's charcoal and ink-wash pieces for "Quixotic" are intensely crafted studies of anatomy and musculature, like the six-foot-tall season-themed panels depicting nymphs with translucent skin, muscles showing through. Autumn, with its devilishly horned beauty standing erect while leaves fall from surrounding trees, explodes with detail, from the lilt of her head, neck muscles stretching around, to the knotted trees that are at first mere background.

Miles MacGregor's acrylic and paintmarker portraits will no doubt astound those unfamiliar with his work; his stippling technique yields photo-realistic results on the large canvasses he employs. Meanwhile, Pablo Luna's welded sculptures of metal and various found objects often end up as deranged robots, while his acrylic paintings have a surrealistic bent. Altogether the artists cover a broad spectrum with their work; throw in Lalo Cota's abstract acrylics and bright cartoonish marine life, Isaac Fainkujen's religious-themed oil paintings, and Armando Rascon's oil-and-stain abstracts, and "Quixotic" becomes a diverse montage of some of the Valley's brightest young creative minds.

The opening reception at Tempe's Lucky Dragon restaurant/gallery should draw a crowd as sundry as the pieces that comprise the show; art shows are swiftly becoming a staple of the Valley's underground hip-hop circuit. But turntablists are being left at the door along with the Jungle Green spray cans -- jazz trio Fogel, Hill and Goldenthal will provide aural soundscapes to complement the artwork.

 
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