exhibition slideshow
Nervous Laughter

Painting and sculpture curated by Leslie Holt

featuring works by Jason Hoeing, Jessica Plattner, Phillip Robinson, Mel Westmeyer, Greg Wiest

On View
September 6 - October 17, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008
7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

"Should I be laughing at this?" is the question that might come to the minds of viewers at phd gallery's newest exhibit that opens September 6 and runs through October 17, 2008. Curated by St. Louis artist Leslie Holt, Nervous Laughter, seduces viewers with humor that draws them to paintings and sculptures whose subject matter is not so funny after all. Artists Jason Hoeing, Jessica Plattner, Philip Robinson, Mel Dean Westmeyer and Gregory Wiest use irony and playfulness to lure the audience into considering darker and more complex topics, such as race, religion, politics, motherhood, and capitol punishment.

Nervous Laughter primarily features painters, including St. Louis artist Jason Hoeing's series of tiny paintings that are jewel-like in their array of saturated colors, shiny surfaces and areas that literally glitter, a quality inherent in his nontraditional medium of nail polish on plexi glass. Hoeing admits the series began as a reaction to being a father and "trying to make sense of a world that is both hostile and nurturing - a world of birthday parties and bombings." On a much larger scale, Oregon painter Jessica Plattner creates self-portraits that address questions of societal expectations of femininity and the role of motherhood. Plattner manages to create a bizarrely humorous universe out of these questions, with over-the-top feminine persona, awkwardly posed and leading viewers to question the scenes.

Self described Negro artist Philip Robinson, also from St. Louis, offers a complex body of work commenting on African American stereotypes by creating blatantly commercial and humorous figurines full of play on racist language - bobble heads ("Nig Nods") and piggy banks ("Niggy Banks"), and other assorted decorative knick-knacks you might find at a gift shop or thrift store. Glass shelves hold seemingly mass produced objects he titles "Ethnocornography," which he refers to as "sculptural figures of speech

Nervous Laughter also includes Gregory Wiest's small scale acrylic paintings with absurd juxtapositions of disparate cultural icons, such as Bob Dylan and Jesus. Wiest's Warhol-like iconography contrast Mel Dean Westmeyer's "Last Meal" series of oil paintings of seemingly random and fun food items. Westmeyer's scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream, biscuits and gravy, and Jolly Ranchers float in idyllic, dusk lit skies. Hardly random, the paintings are literal depictions of last meals of those condemned to death by capital punishment.

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