This morning I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and rode my bike on the new Heights bike trail for the first time. The Koelsch Gallery is on Yale where the trail crosses it, and since I had never been in this gallery, I decided to take a look. There were two exhibits, work by Donna Rosenthal and Jen Blazina. I came at the worst possible time for a blog post--the shows close November 28. Update: I'm told the exhibits will remain up Sunday (29th) and half the day Monday (30th), so you still have a chance to see the work of these artists.
Rosenthal makes doll-sized clothing out of newspaper and magazine pages. These are three dimensional suits and dresses, displayed hanging on tiny scale model hangers. They look a little like clothing one might be picking up from the drycleaner or a clothing store (except small and made of paper).
There is some relationship between the source material (in both senses of the phrase) and the finished object. For example, the "High-Powered Man" is constructed of vintage texts about electricity.
Donna Rosenthal, High-Powered Man, paper and gel, 2009
"Honorable Man" comes from old Boy Scout publications.
Donna Rosenthal, Honorable Man, paper and gel, 2009
Jen Blazina's work is more mysterious and more interesting. Her work in this show consists of purses made of solid cast glass. Like Rosenthal's pieces, these hang down from the wall in a way that recalls a store display.
Of course, unlike a store display which is trying to catch your attention, these purses are just barely there. They aren't invisible, but they approach invisibility. They are empty, of course (and hence functionless), but very solid. Depending on how strong the chains are, they could be pretty deadly weapons.
Perhaps the two artists are paired as commentary on fashion. Art is non-functional fashion, in a sense. As a guy, I can hardly comprehend the cost of purses. I'm flabbergasted by what women will pay for these functional, practical things. But as an art lover, I have no problem with these purses being costly art objects. There is no logic between these two beliefs except to acknowledge that we choose items for conspicuous consumption in highly personal ways, ways which are informed by many things--including our genders.