You know that feeling you get when your uncle pins you down at his Thanksgiving party and finds out you share a love for "the rock music?" You can bet he's going to put on a David Bowie record and start every sentence with "you probably don't know this song, butÉ" When things we love are mishandled it's worse than being forced to endure something we hate.
So I approached SinTax--the Pop art collaboration between Belinki & Duprey and Gallery 500--with marked hesitance. Promises of a contemporary take on Pop art and consumerism had me picturing silkscreen prints of starving African children and cans of Pepsi. When I first strolled through the Belinki half of the exhibit, I thought my premonition might be disappointingly accurate--it was Ronald McDonald who was juxtaposed with the African child--but there were also some pleasant surprises. Mona Superhero's colorful utility tape "painting" gives her hometown the surprisingly rare opportunity to see what the buzz from Seattle and New York is all about. Daniel Kaven provides an untitled triptych about surveillance cameras, convenience stores, and watching people watch other people while they talk on the phone.
Gallery 500's half of the show was even more rewarding. Anthony Georgis' grid of nine photographs, Metro Waste Transfer Station, is a wash of color, rubbish, and the seductive fragments that surround us in this disposable, shit-stained thing we call life. Joseph Cartino uses ephemera and toys like "Come Shop with Me Barbie" to create surrealist pop objects and board games like The Billionaire Game. Bean Gilsdorf turns quilting on its head, Troy Briggs transforms cigarettes into textured wallpaper, and Samantha Wall draws naked women with crayons like I always dreamed I could.
The two spaces provide an almost overwhelming amount of work, but the bad work is as effective as the good at raising the question that lies at the heart of a "contemporary pop" show: how can capitalist consumerism send us to war, lay us off, and then forget about the beautiful, terrifying debris it leaves lining our department stores shelves, filling our dumps and haunting our collective subconscious? It can't.