February’s installment of MAM After Dark kept it fun and snooty, truly befitting of the Calatrava. Although the recently opened Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition fills the main gallery space, providing the draw of a registered trademarked name, New York artist Chakaia Booker concluded her MAM co-starring role. The MAM atmosphere, ambient with disc jockeyed music courtesy of Radio Milwaukee, supported the closing of On Site: Chakaia Booker in the Baumgartner Galleria (back hallway leading to the War Memorial).
Booker’s sculptures, forged of tightly wrapped, sharply cut automobile tires and industrial screws, and some other secret bonding agents no doubt, evoked curiosity and anxiety in Quadracci Pavillion patrons. Fourteen unsung weeks on display, the unsettling creations of On Site stood poised on the floor, and perched on the walls presumably ready to strike at any moment.
It was not really an option to stand with your arms folded, gawking. Option one: karate stance with hands prone in an action grip. Option two: impulsively grabbing at the twining appendages. Option two tested, and a nipping from a security guard occurred from 18 feet.
There is not much one can do with old tires. No, I recant. You can contort them beyond recognition, and actually make people want to look at them. Conservation art with found industrial objects is a fine tradition indeed. On Site closed February 13, 2011.
Borgs and Ugly Sweaters originally posted to the Sane Artworks Blog January 10, 2011.
—- — —-
Borgs and Ugly Sweaters
“So there was this cool cat with an autotunes guitar who went to the bar to tune his guitar… the bar tender asks if he wants a tune-a-sandwich…” If you walked in at this moment of the performance, with a blindfold, you might have thought a stand-up comedian voiced a futile introduction to a terrible joke. If, hypothetically, you were thinking that, with a blind fold on, you would have been wrong.
I stay tuned to ‘MSE no matter the play format, and I keep hearing about this band Sleeping in the Aviary. A friend of mine during the same time period keeps hounding me about this show at the Borg Ward, for over a month she’s been raving. Well, yesterday I happened to be at this place and these cool cats are tuning their guitars, and you probably can’t guess who they are.
Drawing a crowd of anti-scenesters, bad sweater-wearers, beat up chucks, broken-in skull caps, some onlookers that could have been extras in Deliverance, and good old average southsiders of with their customary above average good sportsmanship, Sleeping in the Aviary mid-lined a small independent show of deadpan spaz rock brute force.
Tuning done a riff breaks out: a chorus of drum, guitar, bass, and accordion reminiscent of a 50’s sock hop ditty ode, but that damn accordion is making the music so randomly today that the toe tapping of the spectators soon turns knee bopping. Next song, a little less 50’s with a little more DIY alternative, and torsos start getting in the action. Before the set starts my girlfriend sees a friend of hers and his friend claims he has nothing bad to say about this band. A first time listener, I can’t say that I do either. Even luckier for me my first time is live.
Midway through the show the moppy haired band member stalls by picking up where he left off earlier, “So this guy at the bar, wanted to tune his autotune guitar, was going to get something from the guy at the bar, uh… what did he get?… [pause]… [pause]… he got nothing…[crowd laughter].” His punch-line delivery, an effort to disguise a bubble machine controversy from going public, didn’t keep the slow-train-wreck-like “story” of spending too much on the bubble machine that doesn’t work from happening anyway. Meanwhile, the accordion player managed a wardrobe change into a 1992 Shaq Diesel Orlando Magic jersey and suddenly brandishes a saw to be chorded with a cello bow.
Bubbles spraying lightly into the crowd initially provide ambiance for a crowd member who counts the band back in for the next song. Since lightly spraying bubbles at the wall is no fun, bubbles are cranked up and aimed into the center of the light mass of town folk. The majority of said bubbles are landing on a fairly large fellow you would not expect at show of this sort on a prime Magic: The Gathering card game night. Heads on loose necks are now joining the rest of their bodies, on most of the Borg clan. Even the those of southside-patented least affect are noticeably enjoying the show, although still lacking movement or affect.
Fun is contagious. This axiom proves true for Sleeping in the Aviary: a bright and motley clothed bunch who are barely mumbling one minute and screaming manically the next; a pretty sick musical ensemble (in the previous metaphorical way, which is far less sold out than in the old school snow boarder slang sense). You have to be entertaining if you get bored enough to think up a band name like Sleeping in the Aviary. I heard they might be playing in Mini-soda soon. Go see, they really don’t suck that bad.