What happened to pen pals? Emailing doesn't hold a candle to the tactile feeling and wonderful anticipation of handmade, postal service-enabled correspondence. Perhaps the decline of pen pal culture was the motivation behind Albert Reyes, Aiyana Udesen, and Matt Furie's current show at Giant Robot Gallery, Future Colors of America. Passing their drawings through the mail with the intent that each would add to the pieces, Udesen and Furie (in S.F.), and Reyes (in L.A.) created a substantial collection of collaborative works, mixing them together with solo pieces for the exhibit. Displayed in a continuous band around the gallery and mounted with endless pushpins, the artwork represents the collective consciousness of three perfectly matched artists. Influenced by pop subcultures, their work harmonizes incredibly well, and it's difficult to discern who drew what, though it doesn't matter much at all because the show is meant to be viewed as a cumulative dialogue.
Matt Furie is known for his colorful, subversive characters and Boy's Club 'zines. His girl, Aiyana Udesen, is equally brilliant, and savvy with neon colors and pop culture references. Looking at their art (and his heartfelt testimonial on her Web site), it's easy to see why they dig each other. He draws monsters, she draws celebrities, they both draw animals, and together their work becomes doubly compelling, and their sharp wit cuts like a rainbow knife.
I met Albert Reyes at the opening of a group show at White Walls Gallery a few years ago where his installation of drawings on book covers crawled up the wall to the ceiling. A pile of beer bottles punctuated the display, and Reyes explained they were the remnants of the libations he and his fellow artists had consumed while installing the show. Yes, it was a pile of recycling displayed as art, but it was conceptual. The bottles were part of the process. Originally from San Mateo and known for his street art and killer illustrative style, Reyes seems to thrive when working as part of a community, which is why Future Colors of America is a fresh opportunity to check out his latest work.
The artists are prolific and the exhibit turned out chaotic but tight, with a hundred or more drawings that come across as inside jokes you're being let in on. Displayed like a new school, D.I.Y. salon, you could spend an hour in the small gallery and still miss a few pieces because they're so densely packed together.
The art reminded me of the Exquisite corpse collaboration method. Most everyone is in need of an artistic outlet and more interesting mail, so why not send a friend an incomplete artwork to finish? Or, send it to me. I'm taking submissions, and I promise to return the creativity. Mail to K. Farr, KQED, 2601 Mariposa Street, SF, 94110. Pen pals forever!
Future Colors of America is on view through September 16, 2009.