Like it or not, guns are as American as Happy Meals and maxed-out credit cards, so making them the theme of a group exhibition invites all kinds of timely and biting cultural criticism.
The pieces in "The Gun Show: No Background Check Required" at reZurrection Gallery in Tempe are mixed -- some very good, others very bad. The most successful ones show our culture's alarmingly casual attitude toward violence by putting guns and other weapons into ridiculously normal settings.
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Persian Princess Play Set by Elkanah (one name, like Cher) places a real pistol and hand grenade alongside the plastic tiara, earrings and hot pink feather boa of a little girl's dress-up set. All are painted silver and bedecked with plastic gems, turning the weapons into just two more toys meant to instruct a child about the adult she's supposed to become.
Lou Oates' tinted digital photo of a prim Victorian woman posing with an arsenal of weapons shows the irony of our culture's simultaneous fear of sex and veneration of violence. It's a visual belly laugh at a value system bordering on schizophrenic, where a woman's body is deemed more dangerous and offensive than the hunting rifle at her side.
"The Gun Show: No Background Check Required"
reZurrection Gallery, 601 West University Drive in Tempe
Continues through June 9. Call 480-377-9080.
Maya Allcott suggests an explosive denial lurks beneath the sunny right-wing faade of Pax Americana with a mixed-media piece depicting Lynne Cheney sitting next to the prone body of hubby Dick. A gun lies on the floor next to the downed veep, and Lynne nervously peruses a book titled Pleasant Thoughts.