Solomon Projects rock show hits high and low notes
Something Along the Lines of Rock 'n' Roll is more like an entertaining cover band than a well-oiled act
Groupies, meth, Jack Daniel's, cocaine, tattoos, Glocks: New York artist Carter Kustera's black silhouettes of rock 'n' roll vices are arranged in a pattern of 20 square images on the gallery wall at Solomon Projects. It looks like a quilt grandma might have made — if granny had been a jailbird.
Kustera's graphic, mud-flap-ready images celebrate all that is naughty but seductive about making music. Steeped in the short-and-sweet wit of T-shirts and bumper stickers, Kustera's gouache-on-paper work sets the pace for the rest of the Solomon Projects show Something Along the Lines of Rock 'n' Roll. Sometimes work in the exhibit struggles to keep up, as in Amy Landesberg's limp sound check "Rosewood Swag," which seems to belong in a different show entirely, and Amy Pleasant's wispy, overshadowed Gummo-esque figure studies.
Although it's refreshing to have a group show reigned in with a theme beyond "greatest hits," or "let's buy some art, people," Something is more like an entertaining cover band with an amazing lead singer and a mediocre drummer than a well-oiled act that leaves you sweaty and sated. Though the show piggybacks on Solomon Projects' 1996 exhibition Rock 'n' Roll, viewers (like me) who didn't catch the original may be frustrated by the insider-feeling "you should have been there" nod.
While Kustera channels the more overt up-all-night, bad-behavior strain of rock 'n' roll, Joe Peragine steams up the gallery windows with the covert hot-house energy, twisted influences, and river of dude-ness that suggest a teenage rock fan's bedroom wall. Peragine's contribution to the show is a collaged exorcism of the artist's inspirations splattered like Sid Vicious' lunch onto one wall of the gallery. Never have Peragine's thrillingly mad influences mashed up so well to create their own wicked, cacophonous score, steeped in the rock 'n' roll urge for obliteration.
The longtime Atlanta artist has always tapped into a fascinating boy-adventure vein that allows symbolically fragile bunny rabbits to coexist alongside images of manly war and mayhem. Peragine's dizziness-inducing wall is like getting every life stage of the American male's psyche, from babyhood to manhood. But all at once. There are watercolors of battle-hardened he-men, scrappy dudes encircled by pythons, sculptures of tanks and army ants, and a short animation of homicidal clowns standing in for the artist's sublimated rage-wearing-a-happy-face.
More Lady Gaga than Lollapalooza, former Atlantan Karen Rich Beall examines her usual subject area of natural world weirdness and mutation, and all of the quotidian perversity unfurling at ankle level in yards and gardens. Beall uses felted wool and thread to create technically superb creatures bursting by turns, with sexual abundance and intimations of death and dying. Her work "Hybrid" is a high point, a kinky cornucopia of impossibly lewd lemons and fecund, eruptive plant forms that make it look like Larry Flynt's fruit bowl. Suspended from the ceiling, the rude, colorful natural world phantasmagoria bursts into Little Shop of Horrors mutated life.
It may not be rock 'n' roll. But I like it, I like it, yes I do.