Gangsters

By GREG COOK  |  July 24, 2007

Davis stitches together modest patchwork portraits of the other Lady Cougars on pillowcases from scraps of felt and satin that she uses to make costumes for her burlesque dancing. Roy tries to channel the mythical, fairy-tale monster archetypes of her comrades in clunky paintings — Hesketh becomes a gorgon, Driscoll develops a unicorn horn and floppy ears, Horrigan is a “meremaiden” chomping on a fish.

Driscoll based her photos of the Lady Cougars on self-portraits they made, trying to meld their self-representation with her own vision. In a black-and-white shot, Hesketh appears in a fur hat and bikini with what appears to be a toy bird perched on her arm. And there’s a disconcerting dark wet spot that appears like a wound along her belly. Roy is a bleached-blonde woman in a black dress submerged in a blue inflatable pool with a black spider doll crawling along the edge. In the past, Driscoll’s best photos were energized by nostalgic lyricism and crisp fresh details. Here she’s devised an interesting method, but doesn’t seem to have found her voice within it yet, and so the images feel a bit generic.

The Miracle 5, a wacky superhero-themed collective which formed a couple years back, is represented by two of its five members, Elaine Bay and Raul Gonzalez. (I should note here that I’ve been friendly with some of the Miracle 5 folks for years and exhibited with four of them at the Nave last fall.)

Bay, who also answers to “Princess Die,” fills a wall with a giant rainbow-hued poster of Jason, from the Friday the 13th films, in his trademark hockey mask and brandishing a machete. (The exhibit opened on Friday, July 13.) On the floor below, a square is marked out in red and silver tape with cartoon-type moneybags set in the corners. Cardboard knives painted with blood stains circle a tinfoil platter topped by gold branches wrapped in rhinestone American-flag bracelets. Bay imagines it as “a crossing place where worlds of divinity and humanity meet,” a place where the living might obtain divinity by making contact with Jason’s victims. All hail Jason, but the ritual trappings could use a bit more of the sparkly spicy surprise ingredients that made Bay’s assemblages so fun at the Rhys Gallery on Harrison Avenue in February.

Gonzalez (a/k/a Cerebot) draws a giant $10 bill with a pop-eyed portrait of Miracle 5 teammate Ken Boutet taking the place of Alexander Hamilton, and shit and a hand flipping the bird replacing the treasury and federal reserve insignias.

Joe Keinberger represents the nearly defunct trio the Olde Ghosts, who bonded over their adoration of horror movies and the macabre. “They really formed in reaction to the Lady Cougars,” Driscoll insists, “because they were jealous that they couldn’t be members.”

“Not quite,” Keinberger says. Driscoll likes to slag on the Olde Ghosts, boasting that the Lady Cougars beat the Olde Ghosts in a DJ battle in Cambridge on Halloween 2005. “They did,” Keinberger says sheepishly. “But they kind of outnumber us. We’re due for a victory somewhere down the line.”

Keinberger presents charming little atmospheric pencil and ink-wash Civil-War-era-style portraits of ape-, skull-, and pumpkin-head “ne’er do wells who have taken part in some of the darker events of our history.” The Krampus of Bellam Falls is a wooly, toothy beast with twig horns. Keinberger, a natural draftsman, makes his drawings look effortless, but they could use something knotty — whether in form or content — for him to tangle with.

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