Thursday, September 3, 2009

Words of Encouragement: Review of September's Art Walk: by John Touchton

Downtown Jacksonville, these days, reeks of ambition and Art Walk seems to be the source of creative stench where this month has been a testimony of such. The police are making efforts to look busy, as we citizens are taking advantage of the single night, per month, we are allowed to drink in the streets. I habitually make my rounds by the old library; this location proves to ward off boredom and routine, boasting barbeque, art, and live music. Besides the logical reasons that I abide in such a familiar sect of these monthly occasions, I am anxious to see what's new from some of my favorite artists in town. Eric Gilliard is displaying his pictorial representations of conspiracy theory and ancient mythology, as Ian Chase's installations drain the city's electricity to portray the weird and unexplained. After the Bomb, Baby, as well as Tourist Trap are scheduled to play this evening and I, for one, plan to be there.
Although I always stick close to the library, I do make a point to see what else is happening in the area. Walking down Adams St. during Art Walk, one may find all sorts of creative happenings; I was lucky enough to stumble upon a building, void of anything that would imply legitimate business use throughout the rest of the month. The walls were bare and the floors, just dusty concrete; however, this desolate structure may have provided the perfect stage for electronic trio Matrix Infinity, along with their friend Morrison Pierce, to decorate with psychedelic cut outs, stencils, and a plethora of randomness. They also had some of their recordings and other miscellaneous merchandise on display. Peeking through these little plastic bags they had for sale, I found something new in each one. I'd say that these ladies have some of the most innovative, hand made band merchandise in the city. It's almost as if they robbed an arts-and-crafts store, just to meticulously assemble each piece differently. After visiting such a strange place, I decided to continue down Adams St. to the convenient store for a couple of beer.
Upon arrival, and I have to mention this although it has nothing to do with art, I found two of Jacksonville's finest heckling a paraplegic homeless man who had just scrounged up the change to purchase a four-pack of Highlife. While this sort of behavior is not uncommon, I was appalled at what happened next, as I was choosing my selection of brew: one of the officers came into the store holding the remainder of the four-pack, set it on the counter, and in a most typically, cop fashion he said to the clerk, “Okay, here's what I'm gonna' do. I'm gonna set these here beers on the counter, and you can just put 'em right back on your shelf. He's had enough to drink. Heh, heh, heh.” Now, I'm no lawyer, but is it not illegal for a retail store to receive full payment for a commercial product, then to sell the same item again, at cost? And why is it that hundreds of drunk citizens are able to stumble up and down the street obnoxiously, yet one disabled bum can't have a few beer in his wheelchair? I can't see a man of his caliber getting too disorderly in a fucking wheelchair. Maybe I should let it be, but it infuriates me to see a public servant display such behavior, but at least the man didn't get shot or tased. Like I said though, this has nothing to do with art. As I made my way back to the library, it occurred to me that while I may not be as easy of a target as a crippled homeless person, I should still be weary of the parades of police patrol. After all, they can do whatever they want.
Returning to the library, I was amazed at how many people had arrived. The place was buzzing with art enthusiasts and for good reason. I've known Ian Chase and Eric Gillyard for a few years now, but they've been friends for much longer, which may be why they do so many displays together. Last spring they had a big show at St. Augustine's Screen Arts and Eric displayed some of his work early this year in the basement of the library. I like Eric's work because of its subtle themes. At first glance, one may not know what the relevance of his pieces are, but if that curious speculator were to inquire of him the nature of his work, it may result in long discussion about aliens, biblical mythology, masonic rituals, or any number of conspiracy theories. Its not just the cerebral content, however, that excites my intellectual taste buds, but it is his methods as well. His work, in my opinion, resembles photoshop techniques but with actual images, rather than digital: sort of a cut and paste style that is more than just a simple collage. And Ian Chase, one of the most eccentric people I know, had two installation pieces this month. One, simply titled “Thai Lunch Buffet,” was my favorite. It consisted of a bass drum on some sort of rack with two mallets mechanically engineered to run by themselves, creating a machine gun blast beat, while a recording of eerie guitar noises and chanting blared over a Marshall full stack. The second, I'm unsure of the title, was an arrangement of neon lights and a disco ball hanging from a structure rigged to hang more lights and a bubble maker. It's great when an artist's creative endeavors cause one to question the artist's sanity and Ian Chase's work does that and more. Not many are willing to put time and money into a piece that may not turn a profit, but I feel it's respectable when someone does step out on a limb for the sole purpose to blow minds. As the bands set up their equipment, Thai Lunch Buffet would carry us into oblivion and prepare an audience for loud music.
Although I did a review of After the Bomb, Baby a few weeks ago, I feel that their performance alone, this Art Walk, was worth a few words. As I've mentioned before, this band is anywhere from slightly, to completely different every time I see them play. This time, although the line-up was almost unchanged, I feel that their set had a certain level of improvisation that enhanced their nuclear party sound. And for the first time I had the chance to see Tourist Trap. I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew about them was that they had played with Guttermouth a few weeks earlier. Honestly, I didn't know Guttermouth still existed, but I thought it was strange that they had played together. Either way, I was impressed with their style. They carry out a thrash appeal, not dissimilar from bands like Asshole Parade or Charles Bronson. Josh Jubinsky, normally drumming for every band from here to St. Augustine, turned out to be a secret shredder on guitar. With Eric, from Jacksonville's Civilization, playing bass guitar, along with their drummer and female vocalist, these guys and girl, destroyed it. They will be playing again on September 26 at Steamworks with Gnarly by Nature, National Dairy, and The Winslows from St. Augustine.
The night seemed to be a success. Although I didn't leave the Adams St. area, I know that there was a lot more going on. Every Art Walk, lately, there has been too much for one person to write about and that is what excites me. I feel that Jacksonville gets overlooked sometimes, but there is actually a lot going on here. The thing that makes the city so ambitious is the fact that anything can be done here, but because of city planning, First Baptist, and the ever prowling J.S.O., artists and musicians alike must work extra hard to make cool shit happen. With Burro Bag, Zombie Bikes and the contributors, along with every band, artist, and independent business owner, our potential can only be limited by laziness. Hoorah!

Photos by tom p. Click the picture to see the set.


AGattis on September 3, 2009 at 5:13 PM said...

Nice review, but I think you're being unfair to the city's cops. Yeah, the guy you mentioned by name was kind of a dick (as is often the case) but for the most part, every art walk I've been to they have been pretty professional about the whole thing. I have never been hassled by anyone in uniform, and to my knowledge, neither have any of my friends.
But yeah, that was my first time seeing After the Bomb Baby and it was pretty interesting. I don't think I could ever sit down and listen to a group like that on an album, but for a live show, it kept me in good spirits through humor and unapologetic goofiness. I enjoyed myself.
I wish you would have mentioned the Atomic Sketch tables inside, that was really great if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Great Review John. Your work is getting better with every post.

Spezz Meckman

Anonymous said...

Your craft is art 2.0

Billy Mays' beard

Anonymous said...

Hundreds of citizens stumbling obnoxiously? Really? I go to every art walk as well...haven't seen that yet.

Back the f up see more homie

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