Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Something Weird This Way Comes

Amy Bennett's artwork is something I've been following for a few years now. She had studio space in my neighborhood at Smack Mellon and I shyly spoke with her a few times during open studio tours. During my last trip to L.A., I stopped at the Richard Heller Gallery to see her work, which wasn't up yet. They very kindly let me look at one of her paintings from her new series, At the Lake. It was interesting seeing a painting in a wooden shipping crate with styrofoam and tissue paper all over.

In her Neighbors series, Amy Bennett's paintings laugh at the normal and carry a hearty does of death humor (so sad it's funny). Some of them are overhead views of a neighborhood and some of them are floor plans of houses with figures. All of them have excellent titles that contribute to the way in which they explore the theme of home--through the uncanny, the uncomfortable, the awkward, the seemingly perfect. For example, in the painting, "Exposure" a couple is having their picture taken in front of their yellow house. They do not see a naked woman dancing or watching them through the cracks in the fence, by the pool in her backyard. Recently I noticed a story line between two of the paintings. In the first, "Every Second Counts," a couple is carrying someone to a car. In the second painting, "Paying Respects," same house, two people are standing in the rain, about to go inside, and the house is surrounded by cars. The funerary sense is real and it's absolutely stunning that Amy Bennett can spark so much storytelling in these scenes.

The process of making art is sometimes just as interesting as the final product, if not more sometimes, and Amy Bennett's process is a fantastic example of this. For her Neighbors project, she built a miniature diorama of a suburban neighborhood and these served as a model for the paintings. I hear she's done the same for her At the Lake series.    

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