When I missed a show of Matt Furie's color drawings last year, I bought one of his 'zines to try and make up for it. His images looks like Sesame Street characters gone awry, a favorite being a blue Grover-type character with multi-colored intestines pouring out of his split gut like a rainbow. The 'zine is black and white except for the cover and features four stereotypical boy characters -- Andy, Brett, Landwolf, and Pepe. They have boy bodies and animal heads, and they watch TV, eat chips, drink booze, fart, puke, and do other boy stuff. They also appear to be stuck in the 1990s, which is not only funny but offers a kind of cultural commentary. This 'zine, Boy's Club 2, made me want to see Furie's color works even more so I headed to Double Punch to see a group show called Strange Ways in which he was included. Turns out Furie was showing original drawings from the Boy's Club comics along with some framed drawings of dragons on notebook paper. "Dude," I thought to myself, "these look like a fifteen-year-old boy's drawings." In fact, the dragon series was listed collectively as 54 Untitled Drawings from 1994-1996 when Furie was ages 15 - 17. The dragons are presumably his early work, so why not frame and view them critically, reveling in the dragons' musculature and the artist's block-lettered signature just as you would with Picasso's works from the late 1890s? Furie was obviously some kind of prodigy, too. The Boy's Club drawings, also framed on 3-hole-punched paper, offered more insight into Furie's views on gender, culture, and friendship. Especially sweet was a drawing of two characters hugging that said, "A hug is the shortest distance between friends. Hug Department: Always Open." Boys are so weird.
Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch (or Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch if you use his full name) was also featured in Strange Ways. His paintings were simple, graphic and inviting. His drawings reminded me both of Alexander Calder's wire sculptures and New Yorker illustrations. Deserving of a long stare, Hirsch's drawings appeared to be made with some humble pens, like the shimmery ballpoint ones you get at Office Depot.
Mark Todd, who collaborates with his partner Esther Pearl Watson on a series of 'zines called Unlovable, was listed on the show's postcard, but, unless I'm completely oblivious, his work wasn't in the show. Matthew Lock's drawings and paintings rounded out the exhibition and also recalled the style of a teenage boy. His two largest works, Pollution Capitals 1 & 2, illustrated a post-apocalyptic tale about "purple enforcers mindlessly maintaining a system of control," according to the painted text. Though I wasn't initially drawn to these pieces, due to the aforementioned style, a closer look brought an appreciation of details like a nicely rendered industrial cityscape in the background of Pollution Capital 2, and a clock labeled "out of order," indicating a land that time had forgotten. In a series of drawings on colored paper, Lock had drawn what looked to be a loose brain map of a stoner.
Though I suffered two disappointments at this show (no Furie color works and no Mark Todd drawings), I enjoyed it nonetheless. And a visit to Double Punch is always satisfying. In addition to the gallery, there's a toy store and, currently, a mural in the window by one of my all-time favorite Portland artists and Double Punch regular, Bwana Spoons, who also has some prints and 'zines in the store. Strange Ways was the perfect gender-specific juxtaposition to Sweet Sunny Temper, a 2007 all-female Double Punch exhibit I wrote about that was riddled with girly pink overtones. Viewed next to each other, Strange Ways and Sweet Sunny Temper would serve as evidence that boys are indeed concerned with things like snakes, snails and puppy dog tails, while girls are sugary and sweet. Or so they say in kindergarten.
Strange Ways runs through March 8th, 2009 at Double Punch.