Tyson Grumm Froelick Gallery, 222-1142
Through April 27
Eccentric Neighborhood is a collection of paintings as colorful and imaginative as a children's book. Each piece illustrates a small part of a grand and ridiculous tale where boats sail the skies, seashells speak their wonders through an operator's headset, and antelope frequent restaurant parking lots. Working as snapshots, the paintings freeze places and characters in a single moment, where only the strange environments and curious costumes can offer any hints about the past, or allusions to the future. Thus, each image becomes fertile ground where viewers can cultivate their own unique stories and complete Grumm's "fairytales" in their own imaginations.
In Stanley Porters "Last Wish," Grumm depicts a man strolling down the street in the powdery light of dusk. His gray suit, hat, and red-striped tie indicate that he is heading home after work, and his smile implies that he has no cares in the world. Unfortunately, he seems unaware of a large black vulture flying toward his head. Will it peck the eyes out of his cheery face or just steal his hat and fly away?
Other images are not as animated as the Stanley Porter piece. They are merely characters posing for a portrait, but still as intriguing. Their outrageous names and wild costumes are enough to build interest in their stories. Alma Spilder sports a bomber style jacket accessorized with a fluffy scarf. Giant pink bunny ears complete her look. A preschooler's colorful ring toss toy is the perfect compliment to Lavell Schooner's graying hair, and the graceful bird atop Mathilde Maillard's red turban achieves a sense of elegance more than a mere feather ever could.
Evelyn Hottginger's is the portrait that stands out the most. She wears a red jacket with a high collar. The lace poking out around her neck adds a tone of Elizabethan severity to her costume and echoes the rigidity of her posture; of course, she must sit up straight, or the artichoke nestled on her head may tumble off. The tiny smile at the corner of her mouth is the only hint of softness that Evelyn possesses. Otherwise, she is as prickly and uninviting as her artichoke.
The uniqueness of Grumm's work is complimented by the way he frames each piece. The paintings are affixed to antique wooden clocks and old key cabinets. They are further adorned with items like beads from an abacus, broken rulers, and bits of old maps. With their elaborate decoration, some pieces push the boundary between painting and sculpture.
Eccentric Neighborhood is a collection of stories only partially told. They spark the viewer's imagination with their curious subjects and delight with their whimsical humor. Grumm leaves no space for political propaganda or philosophical ruminations. He makes no points about human misery and offers no solutions for the troubles of the world. He captures a playfulness that is too often missed in contemporary art, and allows the viewer an opportunity to regress into a simpler world where difficulty gives way to daydreams.