Gallery Bink
1416 E Burnside 233-8866
Medusa Tattoo
420 SW Washington, Suite 202 228-1008

The term "lowbrow art" refers to art based in such counter-cultural phenomena as comics, rock and roll, underground and independent pop culture. I hate the term--it makes underground art sound like it's less important than the truly enlightened "highbrow" art that's displayed in art museums and expensive galleries. This is the kind of art that says, "Hello, I was made by an actual person who cares enough to rummage around in trash for supplies because they cannot afford to buy canvas." As far as I'm concerned, that sort of attitude makes it just as valid, if not more so, than art made via grants or trust funds.

Aside from my reservations about the lowbrow tag, there are a couple of great local, comic-oriented shows hanging this month, at the new, self-professed "lowbrow" Gallery Bink and at Medusa Tattoo downtown.

Max Estes, at Gallery Bink, is new to the area, having recently relocated from Milwaukee. His paintings are very distinct and close to the heart--bespectacled boys drawn with broken lines on butcher paper. In "Erie Street," he uses blues, the warm colors of maize, and blocky shapes to impress an image of a city park. The simple silhouettes of a woman and child holding hands stands near a park bench, and along the side of the painting is the word "Mother." Estes' careful simplicity emanates warmth and makes the painting seem like an intimate poem.

Aaron Renier, also at Gallery Bink, shows a series of paintings entitled "The Shoemaker." He reworks the typical use of canvas and turns it into an actual comic narrative, essentially about a man running out of ideas, to be read in a linear fashion. It's done in purples and blues, with lots of detail, but not enough to muddy the story. Unlike, say, Roy Lichtenstein (who appears to have cribbed his ugly-ass pop art from a piece of Bazooka bubble gum), Renier is characteristic of many underground comic artists today, in that his style is an unconventional reflection of his interpretation of space and character.