Gallery Imperato’s newest exhibition, ‘Salvage’, is really two side-by-side solo shows. However, Youngmi Song Organ’s newest hair drawings and Jordan Tierney’s mixed media sculpture do share a monochromatic and concise aesthetic, which creates a harmonious ‘blend’ in the gallery. In ‘Salvage’, both artists have ambitiously pushed successful past bodies of work into uncomfortable and new territory, but this is where the similarities end.
In her newest series of assemblages, Jordan Tierney uses a formal eye to mix and match salvaged parts of old houses, garbage, and other ephemera into solid structural and organic constructions. Surprisingly beautiful artifacts are juxtaposed (HATE that word, but it is true) with architectural elements, large animal bones, broken ceramics, and vintage toys. What ties these disparate elements together is a ubiquitous creamy milk-white color, and surfaces made velvety with age. Whether this is a product of the artist’s hand or her careful curating is difficult to tell, but this ‘magic’ transformation makes these pieces lively and believable.
Youngmi Song Organ’s newest works have taken on a surprising twist: imagery. She is still ‘drawing’ with her long strands of hair and they still read cleanly as line, embedded into handmade paper. I have to admit – I really liked the formal abstractions that this artist has become known for – geometric repetitions with lines so delicate they almost melt. The imagery, as well as the media in these, seemed perfectly integrated.
However, we artists can’t keep on doing the same stuff over and over. Things have to change for new energy to take hold. Youngmi Song Organ’s new direction makes sense, but some of the imagery works better than others. For example, the box. The box, pictured above, is hilarious and quirky. I have no idea what it is about and it’s very cute. Other images that are interesting are Matisse-style Victorian furniture, and trees, but ANY imagery begs the question: What is this about? Why am I looking at a box, or a chair, or a tree? What is the significance of these images and why are they drawn in hair? Other issues: excessive gluing. I prefer these works when I can’t tell how they were constructed. They need to be consistently shiny or matte, but not shiny just where the glue is. The lines are too compelling and the construction too lovely and painstaking to do otherwise.
‘Salvage’ is one of Gallery Imperato’s strongest recent shows. It features two local artists who have paid their dues: both have exhibited consistently high quality and thought-provoking work for over a decade. This is an exhibit that is worth seeing for a number of reasons, but most of all for both artist’s commitment to immaculate constructions in unconventional and unpredictable materials.