Review: Dan Wood and Pippi Zornoza at AS220

Fever dreams and fantasies
By GREG COOK  |  September 14, 2010

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SURREALLY REAL Wood headlines Falwell's folly.

The giant headline on the poster hanging in the window of AS220’s Project Space proclaims: "Antichrist Is Alive, and a Male Jew, Falwell Contends." It reads like an Onion headline, but in fact it’s a real clipping from a January 1999 New York Times article that master Providence printmaker Dan Wood reproduces enlarged but otherwise unaltered for his exhibit “Welcome Back to the Twentieth Century!” (93 Mathewson Street, Providence, through September 25).

The Falwell in the headline is, of course, the late “preacher” Jerry Falwell, who also infamously charged that Teletubbies was “damaging to the moral lives of children” because Tinky Winky was gay. Later he said the 9/11 attacks were God’s punishment for the allegedly sinful ways of pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU, and People for the American Way. His Antichrist prognostications take on new resonance with recent crackpot claims that President Obama is the Antichrist.

Wood’s letterpress prints are a mix of bizarre-but-true tabloid tales and American fever dreams. He reproduces a clipping of Bush’s helicopter taking off from the US Capitol after President Obama’s inauguration. He prints the headline “Texas to Execute Killer of Cheer Leader” over a cross composed from a collage of ladies shoes. Wood prints the slogan “Consumers are the soldiers in the war against recession” atop a field of military tombstones. It echoes President Bush’s speech nine days after the September 11 attacks (“Americans are asking, ‘What is expected of us?’ I ask you to live your lives and hug your children . . . I ask for your continued participation and confidence in the American economy”) and in 2006 (“I encourage you all to go shopping more”).

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CHANGING OF THE GUARD Bush takes off on the day of Obama's inauguration.

Wood is a crackerjack designer and printer, with a knack for catchy combos of words and pictures. That very catchiness can sometimes feel glib, like it’s more about outré catch phrases than serious issues. But Wood’s point seems best summed up in his reproduction of an excerpt of a 1999 Russell Banks column from the Times. Banks recalls running into a pal from his youth, a small-time gangster, and asking him why he hung around with arty types. Wood highlights the pal’s response: “Artists are a lot like gangsters. They both know that the official version, the one everyone else believes, is a lie.”

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UNTOUCHABLE MYSTERIES Detail from Zornoza's "Vultures and the skeleton tree."
AS220’s Main Gallery (115 Empire Street, Providence) offers the nonprofit’s “2nd Biennial Print Lottery,” a smorgasbord of prints by 200 artists from all over — as well as kickass locals Xander Marro, Meredith Stern, Jungil Hong, Jay Zehngebot, Mickey Zacchilli, Allison Cole, and Jean Cozzens. For a $100 donation (proceeds benefit AS220’s community print shop), you get one of the prints by blind lottery.

Pippi Zornoza of Providence, who is also included in the lottery show, is having a public conversation about her art with Guggenheim Museum curator Lauren Hinkson at AS220’s Empire Street space on Friday, September 17 at 5:30 pm. Admission is free. The 32-year-old is a veteran of Providence’s turn of the 21st-century poster explosion (like a number of locals, she was featured in the book The Art of Modern Rock), performs possessed metal music with bands like Bonedust and Vvltvre, and is one of the founders of the decade-old Providence feminist art collective Dirt Palace. Her screenprints combine Art Nouveau, Persian rugs, 18th-century British wallpaper, Byzantine ornament, ’60s psychedelia, and heavy metal goth to create trance-inducing patterns around images of vultures and skeletons and lots of little critters. Plus glitter.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , New York Times, Jerry Falwell, Arts,  More more >
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