The Good Eye Gallery is a small art-loving custom home-decor store on a grey, empty street in Eagle Rock, full of fast moving cars and very little life. Like an oasis in a desert of grey cement, the Good Eye Gallery glows with a modern charm with it’s brick walls, sans-serif white font against a black overhang, and golden accents lining the top of the entry door.
The storefront boasts a small ‘gallery’ space– a middle-sized room with enough wall space for medium and small works of art. The current show in this space is Girl Crushing, a co-curated collaboration between the Good Eye Gallery and the Jealous Curator. The gallery entry leads to the larger store area with objects for creative, yet tasteful, quality home decor. The owner, Melinda Fay, is warm with her greeting, and passionate about creating a space that is safe for artistic communities, as well as for strangers dropping by with an infant daughter in tow.
Girl Crushing features the work of nine female artists. The show ends March 31st, but the themes of womanhood and self-definition will remain relevant and important for many years to come.
The title of the show, Girl Crushing, is a multi-level pun with a sly dose of humor. Are we meant to crush on girls like adolescents ‘crush’ on their sweethearts, and if so, which girls? The women artists or the girls in the art pieces? Or are these girls meant to ‘crush’ on us, seducing us to buy the art? Or are the anonymous girls are ‘crushing’ the world, rebelling against social constructs and expectations like a hammer to a peanut? Or maybe the world is ‘crushing’ them, and they need our help to fight back (hence the donation to Planned Parenthood).
Walking in, it quickly becomes apparent that the pun is laced with sexual tension. To the left, five black and white images of New Year’s Eve 1994 by Fay cascade vertically down the wall. Young adults in the images flaunt words like “SLUT” and “PIMP”, which are scrawled, maybe even scarred, across their chests. A solo male with the word “SLUT” inscribed between boney arms owns the top frame, and a female in a cheap tiara with dark hair and a strong jaw, stares from the fourth frame down. These two young adults are propped on too-square pillows, as if they were B-grade actors told to ‘seduce the camera’.
In two middle frames the crowned queen and ‘SLUT’ king enact a familiar story of youth. In one frame these friends, along with another male and female, pose in partial undress, and pretend to be uninterested as the photographer captures the moment. The ever-so-slight tilt of the chin, and the casual, yet flattering postures gives their self-consciousness away. In another scene she kisses a girlfriend with a partial smile, delighting in the taboo of the action.
The bottom frame of the sequence shows a young, naked woman laughing in the woods; her hand cringe, her breasts sway, her mouth opens wide as if she just stepped in a icy creek, and is in the mood to celebrate the shock. In this drunken drama, she is the jester of the party. With raw emotion, she bares her pleasure with the world, far away from the superficiality of her peers. She is the only real person in this summary of young adulthood, and finds glee in the freedom to discover herself.
Much of the artwork in Girl Crushing reads like a metaphor. The nine 6x6” acrylic paintings of Samantha Fields Containment series suggest that girls are wildfires, smoking with passion and the desire to move, especially when forced to stay in one area. The calming seas and day silhouettes of Lisa Golightly’s pastel and blue paintings Blue Beach Scene and Feeding the Sea Gulls give a nod to the calmer side of femininity. Tasha Kusama’s Mood paintings in creamy pastels gives tribute to the sweet, yet suggestively dangerous, characteristics of a woman’s changing moods, complete with nail polish and a knife against dreamy, cloud backgrounds. Cory Pohlman’s mixed media 8x24” Cake drips with whites, purples, and blues, suggesting a layered, sweet, and tangible approach to viewing womanhood.
Stephanie Vovas’s 36x44” photographic image of a woman’s facial profile, Tangerine Dream, reigns over the show, in size and subject matter. The photo is screened with an orange filter, and every detail– from the small opening of the woman’s lips, to the half-open eyes and heavy eyelashes, to the slight curve of the nose– transports the viewer to the 1970’s vision of free love, sexual persuasion, as synthetic and surreal as it’s presumed Kautrock namesake. This is the true queen of allurement, with all the maturity that implies.
The exhibit, Girl Crushing, is a refreshing take of how women portray themselves through art. As artists are universally aware, women are beautiful sexual beings, sometimes in control of how their sensuality is viewed by others, as the woman in Tangerine Dream seems to be, and at other times self-aware and indulgent queens at awkward youthful parties. But women are so much more then these archetypes. Girls and women are layered, as beautiful as cake, and as ugly as self-inflicted scars. They are also wildfires boiling over with undefined smoke; they are patient and calm seaside silhouettes, quietly contemplating the sea, and other times pondering pastel knives with secret purpose.
The title, Girl Crushing, can be viewed as an amusing pun, or an unintentional patronizing jab at the woman artists, alluded to as ‘girls’, represented. In the end, to witness a small, local showing of women artists reflecting on what it means to be, to feel, and to act as a woman is a welcome therapeutic relief.
Twenty percent of all proceeds from Girl Crushing go to Planned Parenthood. The artwork will be available for purchase one to three months after the show closes. The next show, Manhandled, opening April 8th, represents the work of seven men artists, and 20% of proceeds will go to Everytown For Gun Safety. This model of philanthropy in the art world is admirable and should be a draw for art collectors and artists who care about supporting other worthy causes.
All photos ©http://goodeyegallery.com/
Photos used with permission.