What drew me to Dustin Fosnot's exhibit was mention of a rotating mechanical shark. You can't go wrong with mechanized sea creatures, and Fosnot's show was hardly disappointing. Though the shark was not what I expected, it was a fine example of art that does not take itself too seriously. Set atop a rectangle of Astroturf and installed lovingly inside a retro Coleman cooler full of mystical dry ice, a blue rubber toy shark --looking antique and well-loved by its owner -- repeatedly dove in and out of the small foggy sea as a tiny seagull perched on the side of the cooler and watched. To be accurate, I should say that the shark was actually a dolphin with sharp teeth, and a vaporizer was used to create the dry ice effect, but who's keeping track?
With an unwavering attention to detail, Fosnot also created an entire table full of miniature pieces out of metal, plastic, wood, and paint. Hundreds of teeny-tiny sculptures populated the sawhorse-supported plywood table including exacting replicas of garbage cans, shopping carts, a bookshelf of miniscule file folders, a shower, trampolines, a couple of chopping blocks, a barbeque grill, and even a tiny woodshop table holding an even tinier circular saw. I watched a little girl point to all the items she recognized and enjoyed noticing that Fosnot had created a kid-friendly show. The only distracting part of the installation of miniatures was the fact that each little piece had a big colored dot sticker next to it indicating its price, ranging from $100 to $500 dollars. For one Benjamin, you could be the proud owner of a plastic grocery bag sized perfectly for Barbie.
What I love about Steven Wolf Fine Arts is the gallery owner's willingness to showcase quality work that isn't overly earnest. The gallery also happens to be the site of one of my favorite art-viewing experiences when I attended the opening of sculptor/painter Kaz Oshiro's solo show. Oshiro had perfectly rendered everyday objects out of acrylic paint on canvas, including a large pink and white fast food trash can -- the kind with the swinging door that says Thank You. I watched a clueless viewer pass by the sculpture and errantly place her empty wine glass on top of it. I'd like to give her credit by saying the sculpture really did look like a trash can, complete with some sticky stuff spilled on it, but, hello? When's the last time there was a trash can in the middle of a gallery? The gallery assistant and I shared a wide-eyed look before she quickly removed the garbage from the garbage-inspired artwork.
Pardon my digression -- back to the artwork at hand. On your way into the gallery, be sure not to trip over a sea of painted blue garden gloves cradling a lonely freight ship. A larger freight ship sculpture is also on display, in addition to an homage to a key item in a sculpture student's career -- boxes of drywall joint compound. Though reminiscent of Andy Warhol's work with the recognizable Brillo Box, I wasn't exactly sure how the boxes fit in with the rest of the installations.
Be sure to look up, down, and all around because Fosnot included a couple of easily-missed tiny surprises in his show. In the adjoining gallery is Ryan Boyle's exhibit entitled Architexturism that includes wall installations of colorful miniature oil-rig sculptures. Both exhibits were playful and inviting and I walked away with a better understanding of what it might be like to be a big friendly giant.
Dustin Fosnot: Roadside Attractions is at Steven Wolf Fine Arts through October 28, 2006.