03.11.05 ART@1300 - Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sun, 03/20/2005 - 14:52.

“March of Crimes�, the group show now on view at 1300 Gallery,
brings together a tight “gang� of artists: Ali Calis, Bob Peck, Grant
Smrekar and Nick Zaremba, whose works compliment each other visually
and thematically. All are painters using techniques and materials that
are more commonly seen in graffiti or aerosol art. They prove that
stencils, latex, and spray paint can make a smooth transition to a
gallery setting and some images and messages are equally at home in an
urban landscape or on a canvas in a gallery. Their works should have
great appeal to anyone who has admired aerosol art around the city and
wished they could take a favorite painting home. This show is a great
opportunity for collectors to buy some great works at very low prices.
In keeping with the title and theme of the show, the artwork is a steal!

Ali Calis’s works are humorous and clever; inhabited by superheroes, space shuttles and slightly homely animals. Her paintings on formed wood in the shape of skateboard ramps such as Boyhood Dreams are Your Reality and Red Birds/White Squirrel are particularly original. Giraffes seem to be a favorite theme for her. The Giraffe Anatomy series, colorful painted wood cut out shapes of giraffe heads hung in a group on the wall could almost be from Toys R Us, but they are just a bit too cool for a child’s nursery. Painted giraffe images also adorn a group of vintage shirts Calis is selling in the show for only $10.00 each.

Grant Smrekar’s paintings, created with stencils, latex and spray paint are the largest works in the show. His works also make the most obvious references to other artists. His stenciled figures - the same ones appear on several canvases in the show – are reminiscent of some of Andy Warhol’s most famous silk-screened paintings. Smrekars figures are not celebrity portraits or pop culture icons; one is a smug, slouching young man in a stars and stripes jacket, another is a desperate looking man in a business suit holding an automatic rifle. Stenciled stars and lettering, like one would find a military footlocker, appear in many of Smrekars paintings. His compositions are often violent and confrontation and he frequently uses bold colors associated with militarism and propaganda like red and black.

Nick Zaremba’s works are mixed media collages on canvas. Pieces of green and white accounting spreadsheets, paint smears and spatters, words and stout cartoon figures are at the surface while more mysterious forms seem to emerge from beneath shallow layers of paint. Perhaps Zaremba’s works are a commentary on the palimpsest of detritus found in the urban landscape.

Bob Peck is the colorist of the group. Some of his aerosol triptychs on canvas resemble sunsets in alien landscapes. His palette is dominated by colors like salmon that are rarely found in nature but easily found in the spray paint aisle of a hardware store. His abstract landscapes are constructed of smooth and undulating forms that appear windswept or eroded by water. Peck’s works in this show are small canvases with a monumental quality. His compositions are successful on this scale, but perhaps they would be even better done larger.

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