Do not read this review of Urban Art 10A at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) as it is biased. I work with the curator, Tessa Yee in the Melbourne Stencil Festival. I own a work by Boo, so I have an interest in promoting her work. You have been warned.
Urban Art 10A is a group exhibition, a sampling of street influenced art. In this case street-influence includes aerosol stencils, cartoon influence illustration and custom toys. There is no free hand aerosol art, no vinyl toys, no street sculpture, no guerrilla gardens, etc. but you can’t have everything on a single floor of BSG.
The mini-exhibition of custom toys within the exhibition from the Australian Guild of Toy Makers is fun. Featuring custom soft toys by Amy Calton, Antonia Green and Rob Thompson. It is also the only sculptural element in the exhibition aside from Jak Rapmund’s pile of broken skateboard decks. His rough supports, the broken decks, the chunk bitten off with great teeth marks, are savage. His stencils are fun with a pop sensibility and neo-baroque backgrounds.
There is plenty of work in the cartoon and illustrative direction; Timothy Molloy had a whole comic on exhibition. Apeseven has been painting on more bottles, I’m not surprised as he was very proud of this technical achievement when I spoke to him at his solo exhibition at Famous When Dead (see my review). And like James Panic (I own one of his t-shirts, more reasons for bias) Apeseven is including collage elements into his work. Boo combines both illustration and stencil art in her scenes that are surrounded with paper-cut sacred hearts.
Urban Art 10A did include urban images; the photographic quality of stencil art was on display. Kirpy’s stencils of urban images have a realist tone compared to the more romantic images of urban decay by Logan Moody. E.L.K.’s stencils of mosh-pits, was less about urban images and more about an urban experience.
I’m not so compromised over the other shows on the first floor of BSG; but I’m less interested in photography than street art. Jayne Moberley’s “Schattenspiel Show” is a series of misty color photographs of Melbourne and Sydney. Tebani Slade’s “Lost & Found” is a series of sentimental still life black and white photographs. The only one that I could get into was Bridget MacLeod “Ephemera”, black and white photographs preserving the ephemeral images of lace table clothes used as stencils on the street, but I have seen this idea used several times before.
I was distracted again by the stock on display at BSG; there was some stencil work by Ben Howe and a painting by Jean Lyons, who I had seen on exhibition at Flinders Lane Gallery last weekend. There were more people at the opening with skateboards than the usual exhibition. Milly, the gallery cat was greeting people with affection. I was there early before it got too crowded to move and I’d been on my feet for hours looking at other galleries that afternoon. I wanted dinner and a cocktail more than to hang out in a gallery.