Ken Little has a show up at d.m. allison for a few more days. Last weekend, Little played a few songs on the patio of the gallery. Some were originals, like "Simple America," and some were covers like "You Ain't Goin Nowhere," one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. All the band members were artists, too. (That's Ed Wilson on the left. Ken Little is the second from the right.)
I think more artists should be in bands. I always liked the fact that Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw were in Destroy All Monsters before lighting out to CalArts. I just got an excellent CD of Jack Early songs (aided by Dean and Britta). When you encounter a visual artist who is also a musician, you wonder what the relationship between the music and the art is. Little's music comes out of the country/Americana/singer-songwriter genre, which I see as having its ultimate source in Bob Dylan. And Little is the right age (born 1947) to have grown up hearing songs like "Like a Rolling Stone" when they first showed up on the radio. But let's look at his art.
Ken Little, Wolf, bronze, 7 x 9 x 10 inches
Ken Little, Bear, bronze, 12 x 13 x 15 inches
This show consists mainly of sculptures of animal heads that have the appearance of masks. They look a bit like native American sculpture, and the forms are simplified and somewhat cartoonish. They're delightful.
Ken Little, Hare, bronze, 23 x 22 x 16 inches
Ken Little, Ape, bronze, 13 x 10 x 14 inches
Little indicates eyes and mouth through holes in the the bronze, which is what makes these heads seem mask-like. But he uses this technique on pieces that are obviously not masks.
Ken Little, left to right: House, Please and Soar, bronze, 4 1/4 x 4 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches; 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 4 inches; 6 x 6 x 5 inches
What Little demonstrates with some of these pieces is something cartoonists have long realized--all it takes to anthropomorphize an object are two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth. This seems like a simple truth, but it's a powerful one. His bronze open hand is a beautiful thing, but the face on it gives in an uncanny feeling.
Not that the work here is unsettling. On the contrary, it is amusing and warm. These animals and anthropomorphized objects seem like friends. In that way, they are like Little's band--a gathering of old friends, playing amusing, lovely songs.
Ken Little, Blow Bunny, bronze, 8 x 5 x 5 inches
Ken Little on guitar
This show runs through March 1st at d.m. allison gallery.