I’ve been busy in January; I’ve also been working on preparing for this year’s Melbourne Stencil Festival – yes, already. I have been to a few exhibitions and I’ve been keeping my eyes open on the streets. I ran into performance and video artist, Michael Meneghetti in the street moving lumber by bicycle; it is good to see an artist using a bicycle and not adding more pollution. He told me about the upcoming exhibition at Michael Koro Gallery where he curates the Melbourne propaganda window.
I walked down Flinders Lane even though most of the galleries weren’t open and I wasn’t impressed by most of what I saw. Mailbox 141 had a selection of drawings by artists from various commercial galleries. I finally saw Guildford Lane Gallery, a two-story gallery made from a converted factory; some of the machines are still there. I particularly enjoyed “Vessel” by Janet Carter because it was black, beautiful and made the vibrations of sound visible. Guildford was showing part of the Midsumma visual arts program that occupies most of the gallery spaces that are open in January – City Library, Platform 69, Smith St. and more.
I saw the Pigment exhibition “new release” of recent arts graduates; I meant to see the exhibition of recent graduates at Blindside but was busy on Thursday and was only in the city on Wednesday. The exhibition had an unsettling quality to it because the more the artist looked comfortable and confident with their media the more boring I found their art. The art on exhibition that I enjoyed was neither comfortable nor confident. Valentina Palonen’s centrepiece sculpture “Separation Anxiety” was the most powerful work in the exhibition but it was so funky ugly, kitsch ugly that I never felt comfortable looking at it. I described some of Palonen’s smaller sculptures in my notes as: “ugly kitsch blobs”. Melissa Grisancich’s pop meets Frida Karlo images were also unsettling and mysterious, as were Kate Winterton’s surreal photographs.
Then there was the truly bad art, not just the disturbingly ugly. Bad exhibitions are often shown in January when those galleries that are open are desperate to exhibit something. I went to Brood Box but quickly walked out again as Bill and Helen Kemp mixed media landscapes are horrible. Mixing painting with fabric art is often a recipe for bad art and this exhibition is not an exception.
In the end I didn’t get to the opening at Michael Koro Gallery on Thursday as I was being interviewed for yet another documentary about Melbourne’s street art until 7:15. Maybe I’ll get to see it in February.