We’ll fry anything

Corn Dogs + Blue Ribbons at Montserrat, Boston Does Boston at Proof, and Some Sort of Uncertainty at Axiom
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  January 2, 2008
Meg Birnbaum, Granny's Racing Pigs

“Cord Dogs, Blue Ribbon and the American Pastoral: Photographs by Meg Birnbaum” at Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery, 23 Essex St, Beverly | January 7–24 | 978.921.4242 ext.1319

“Boston Does Boston” at Proof Gallery, The Distillery, 516 East 2nd St, South Boston | January 12–February 23 | 508.963.9102

“Some Sort of Uncertainty” at AXIOM Gallery, 141 Green St, Boston | January 11–February 17 | 617.953.6413
The dead of winter is a great time to conjure the seedy pleasures and heady aromas of a good country fair, steeped in sheep and fried dough. Somerville photographer Meg Birnbaum attended seven New England fairs last summer and documented her experience with a little plastic camera. The resulting black-and-white images look slightly antique, with blurry edges and old-fashioned subject matter (kids carrying poultry, old guys in hats and lawn chairs watching a horse-pull), but each one betrays its 2007-ness in some small way. A selection of Birnbaum’s fair photos are on view in “CORN DOGS, BLUE RIBBONS AND THE AMERICAN PASTORAL: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEG BIRNBAUM,” opening at Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery on January 7. Perhaps the slightly nostalgic quality of the images is an expression of the artist’s concern with the prospects for these regional expositions. As she has writes in a statement about the project, “The future of summer fairs may rely on a shift away from agriculture to entertainment . . . mostly food, specifically fried food: fried Oreos, fried cheesecake. ‘We’ll fry anything,’ one sign read.” Seems hard to imagine that the attraction of livestock showmanship and crop competitions could ever wane.

Used to be, artists were unsure whether being identified with the regional label of “Boston artist” was a matter of pride or marginalization, but it seems that now, in an increasingly global art market, artists can be happily based in Boston while remaining active citizens of the (art) world at large. In “BOSTON DOES BOSTON,” opening January 12, the young Proof Gallery has tapped Boston artists Hannah Cole, Kevin Driscoll, Andrea Raynor, and Matt Rich to each select an artwork by a local artist, to be shown along with one work of their own. Artists David Ording, Nik Gulasik, Mary Hughes, and Ellen Rich, respectively, join their “deciders” in a show that shrugs off categorization without a backward glance.

Warm breath activates an artwork made with tears on a cool window, artists tell lies to visitors, and sounds of all sorts are triggered by movement in “SOME SORT OF UNCERTAINTY,” opening at AXIOM Gallery on January 11, in collaboration with Art Interactive. Flying in the face of the traditional gallery-goer’s expectation of a fairly passive experience with the art at hand, the interesting cast of artists assembled for this exhibition — Bruce Campbell, Liz Nofziger, Lina Maria Giraldo, Elias Heim, Brian Knep, Nathalie Miebach, Michael Sheridan, Douglas Weathersby, and the collective Institute for Infinitely Small Things—offer a more open-ended, inviting experience, taking the position of co-conspirators, as opposed to didacts, in relation to their audience.

On theWeb
Montserrat College’s Schlosberg Gallery: www.montserrat.edu
Proof Gallery: www.proof-gallery.com
AXIOM Gallery: www.axiomart.org

Related: Don’t leave me this way, Going deep, Across the Universe, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Mammals, Nature and the Environment, Wildlife,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   JUST A LITTLE BIT  |  September 23, 2008
    Digital-era experimental filmmakers occupy a rich and interesting place in relation to the new technology available to them.
  •   WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN . . .  |  September 17, 2008
    This exhibit explores the basic nature of color and its relationship to survival and pleasure in the world.
  •   DOLLHOUSES AND DREAM STATES  |  September 11, 2008
    Autumn highlights in the museums and the galleries.
  •   THE NATURE OF THE BEAST  |  September 10, 2008
    In the world of graphic novelist Kevin Hooyman, whose show opens at Proof Gallery on September 13, packed line drawings take you deep into strange and fantastical scenes.
  •   I AM I SAID  |  September 03, 2008
    Tufts University Art Gallery presents “Empire And Its Discontents,” which opens September 15 with work by 11 artists tied to previously colonized regions in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

 See all articles by: RANDI HOPKINS