Friday, October 9, 2009

Immersed in Commerce

On a quick lunch break yesterday, I stopped by the Nelson Gallery at UC Davis to view the latest exhibits. As I walked in I saw a huge label, "Merch Art," over a comic-style decorated plate and a quirky green stuffed puppy. Unsurprisingly, it caught my eye. It turns out it is a collection of two San Franciscans (Lawrence Banka and Judith Gordon) who wanted to be art collectors, but who had to work from a small budget. So they gathered a collection of artist-made gifts and multiples. They dedicatedly searched eBay and craigslist to find these lost treasures, coming up with an assortment of useful objects made by well-known artists, from demitasse cups to matchboxes to wine labels to beach towels. Some of my favorite artists had work in the exhibit, like a flipbook by Chuck Close, a plate by Roy Lichtenstein, and a Jeff Koons stuffed animal. But my favorite piece in the exhibition was a watch by Wayne Thiebaud. Thiebaud has long been a favorite of mine. I first fell in love with his vertical versions of San Francisco streets (where I’m from). Then I saw a print of his titled “Bird on Swing” in a friend’s house and adored the simplicity and not-quite-reality of the work. But anyways, back to the watch. Functional art is always necessary, it is where design and art intersect. It is how to bring art to the masses. And this watch perfectly depicts Thiebaud’s style, but in a mass media manner. “Thiebaud” in yellow cursive pops from the red suede band, which frames a green face decorated with pool balls like those from his 1972 print aptly titled “Pool Balls.” To top it off, the watch is encased in a black tin speckled with white dots, a punchy accent to the work. But I think the title is the cleverest part of all: “Break Time.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about our exhibition. We're glad you enjoyed it!