Until April 9, the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery is displaying a large collection of artwork composed of materials such as animal bones, recycled metal zippers, garden hoses, dollar bills, eggshells, peach pits, pencil shavings and even human hair. Ladies and gents, this is not your average “late Renaissance” art exhibit.
As you walk into the large display hall the exhibit that you are likely to notice immediately is the enormous 1960 Cadillac DeVille Sedan located in the center of the hall. This is no ordinary Caddy – artist Larry Fuente has created this “Mad Cad” in every sense of the word. Every centimeter of the original paint has been covered by plastic gems and figurines, the tailpipes have been replaced by golden saxophones, large colorful flamingoes adorn the rear wings and bowling trophies line the front grill. Staring at this bewildering work of art I found myself wondering how many garage sales this guy went to in order to collect so many random objects. The “Mad Cad” is indeed, as Fuente states, a comment on the excessive style of consumption in America. Weighed down by so many decorative figurines, the Cadillac averages only two miles to the gallon. So for now, although certainly an eye catcher in traffic, we’ll have to be content to stare at the “Cad” in awe in its parking space at the MAG.
As I slowly backed away from the “Cad,” I turned and found a miniature human head staring at me through a glass case. Being so realistic, it was not until a second, closer look that I realized this head was made by sewing pieces of orange peel together! But every small detail was there down to the eyelids, lips and nostrils. This display alone is worth every second of that five minute RTS ride to the MAG. You can circle round and round this orange peel head, which artist Jan Hopkins titled “I Wonder,” all day long and continue to be amazed.
The next exhibit that came to my attention – among so many – was a giant circle of carrots displayed on the wall. There was nothing too visually stunning about this work, but the concept behind it is fascinating – “Carrot Wheel” was composed by the Art Guys as a biodegradable work of art. In order for the composition to remain intact the carrots need to be replaced regularly, resulting in a different concept of “worth.” For the “Carrot Wheel,” time is not something that increases its value, but rather the concept in and of itself.
Ambling along into a smaller side room I stumbled across an exhibit that struck me with absolute awe. At first glance, the collection of “17 Presidential Commemorative Smog Plates” appeared to be just that – a set of plates, each with an image of a different president. But hold on – read the tag next to the exhibit that explains why the word “smog” is thrown in the title. Artist Kim Abeles had the unique idea to cut stencils of 17 different US presidents surrounded by a statement they made regarding the conservation of the environment. She then placed each stencil on a white porcelain plate and let them sit for different lengths of time outside on her patio in Los Angeles, Calif. The more harm done to the environment during the president’s term, the longer she left the plate outside. When the stencil was removed, the picture-perfect images remained and the different shades are striking. The exhibit is at once beautiful and horrific – either way, it is a must see.
So if you haven’t already, head on over to the MAG on University Ave. and take advantage of the free student admission.
Cochran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.