Monday, February 8, 2010

A1LabArts exhibit: Alter-Ego:Self Portrait as Your Porn Star Name

Warning: Need Sense of Humor or lack of Maturity to Proceed

Alter Ego: Self Portrait as your Porn Star Name

A1LabArts Gallery Space/ Fireproof Storage

Knoxville, TN

February 5, 2010


Before I discuss the exhibit, lets check out the really important stuff-the reception, food, beer, wine. Party! It was freezing out, kind of warmish inside, but really got warm when the place packed with people and the people packed with some Fat Tire Beer and Random Wine. Every time I turned around, there was more food being brought in. Knoxvillians are very well trained to do that.

There were deep discussions

anatomical research

digital shoot-outs



proud co-directors


3D inspections

good behavior

and naughty behavior

The idea for the A1LabArts February 2010 Exhibit, Alter Ego: Self Portrait as Your Porn Star Name, originated at a party at my house a bunch of years back. Artist Alan Finch, AKA Red Penix, had everybody figuring out their Porn Star name: your first name is the name of your first pet, and your last name is either your mother's maiden name or the name of the street you grew up on.

Finch doing his KY Jelly cell phone trick

The people at the party had a rather amazing assortment of names, so over the years this important subject of discussion kept popping up during exhibit receptions. When it came up again in Sept. 2009 at an opening, Sara Blair (co-executive director of A1LabArts of Knoxville, TN) and I looked at each other and declared "This should be a themed exhibit!"

Denise Stewart-Sanabria and Sara Blair-McNally experience spontaneous curating urges

After jumping up and down a little we got an open call going to the members of A1LabArts, selected several guest artists whose work already ventured into the right territory, and picked up a few more random artists who got excited after seeing our exhibit card on Facebook.

We envisioned a kind of part camp, part Cindy Sherman meets John Waters obnoxiously naughty and thoroughly tasteless exhibit. Just the type of therapeutic event needed in the midst of a protracted recession. The 21 artists involved did not let us down. (Unfortunately, I don't have images of all the work. Some people removed their work at the end of the night and I missed a chance to get good photos.)

The three invitational artists were:

David Pease, AKA Goldie Wexgate,
Jorge Gomez del Campo, AKA Rubio Aquilar Estrada, and
Frank Hebert, AKA Maxi Lauderdale.

Pease is no stranger to the concept of dress up self portraits. It is the main theme that runs through all his work, whether working in oils on wood or water media on paper, and wearing cowboy boots, underwear, or pumps.

“Rake Me, Mr. Wexgate” “David, I Have a Brain, Too!” “Goldie and the Picket Fence”

Rake Me, Mr. Wexgate” charcoal, gouache, ink

Gomez del Campo’s thematic connection originates from a large series of ripped magazine collage paintings he has been doing examining sexual sadomasochism in the fashion photography industry. The recycled magazines he uses for source material range from said fashion magazines to “Mexican Murder Magazines”, which are the south-of-the-border equivalent to our “True Detective” rags.

Rubio Aquilar Estrada
Collage mixed media on salvaged canvas

Hebert does work that is slap your face outrageous, My favorite has to be a piece that photo-shopped sex-offender mug shots lifted from internet offender maps with the bodies of toy Fisher Price people. His piece once again drew from toy constructions:

“Will the REAL Maxi Lauderdale Please Step Forward?”
inkjet print, cotton, polyester and metal

The rest of the work is from A1LabArts members and the people we picked up along the way. Starting at the beginning, the conceptual originator of this exhibit, and more crazy ideas over the years that I can count: Alan Finch, AKA Red Penix. When he was 15 and on the Oak Ridge High School Ballroom Dancing Team, they went to New York to compete, where they saw a marquee announcing a film called “I Wish I was in Dixie” somewhere around 42nd Street. It left a lasting impression.

Red Penix” I Wish I Was IN Dixie" Digital photograph

We picked up Jason R Scott, AKA Little Bear Claymont from Facebook first. He curates local exhibits supported by the Knox County Stormwater Department, which is responsible for scores of hand painted water barrels all over town, and an upcoming juried exhibit called: H2OhMy.

Little-Bear Claymont ”The Queen of Consumption Bears Fruit” Media: Digital PrintPrice:

Next on that list was the husband and wife team of Alexandra and Chris Spinosa, AKA Strawberry High & Baby Thornwood. When I saw them doing an online search for mannequins I knew it was going to be fun. What it turned into was an electronic interactive piece featuring a small digicam hidden in the bra of one mannequin that projected the face of anyone examining her up close on the computer screen head of the other mannequin. That other mannequin not only supported a screen for a head, but also wore a strange apparatus with mounted dildos that I can only describe as a dial-a-dick.

Lil' Punisher & Sterling John Silver ”Live!” interactive installation

Not content to just submit one piece, they also provided a fresh interpretation of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic. Despite doing a good job hot gluing the purple balls to the man’s eyeglasses, technical problems developed when the two substances decided not to permanently adhere. It can be embarrassing when your balls fall into your mouth, especially when there is a purple phallic ring in the way.

Pulling America's Technicolored Gothic Plug mixed media collage

Heather Harrison, AKA Cleopatra Young supplied a slick painting with a bit of a Dominatrix attitude.

Cleopatra Young Acrylic on wood panel

A1LabArts pool of over 100 artists supplied us with the rest of the pieces in the exhibit, most of which are included here. I’m missing images of a few due to them being taken down the night of the exhibit or due to extreme exhibit reception distraction.
Neranza Blount, AKA Sneška Ivanovich did an amazing piece of wizardry using both a 3D printing process and the usage of perspectival mirror anamorphosis. The distorted photo on the surface of the pedestal can be seen in the correct proportion in the reflective cylinder only when you stand at the right distance from it. Pornography produced in past centuries often took this form, so that “should children chance upon it”, they wouldn’t be able to make out the images unless the reflective cylinder was in the same location.

Anamorphic "Snowflake" Photography & Mirrored paperCredit to John Fairstein for original 3D photograph

And speaking of John, AKA Rainshine Chastain , he materializes himself magically inside of the painting that is, I believe, hanging over the bar at Regas.

"Reclining Nude"By Rainshine Chastain

L. P., AKA Sasha Bews, actually managed to do a rather tasteful piece based on vintage pin-up poses. Classy!

Sasha Bews Slippers Oil on Canvas

Another classy self portrait was supplied by Kim Young, AKA Magdalena Village Way. The entire piece was painted on an old window shade, hopefully one from a bedroom.

Magdalena Village Way "Lena in Waiting" Acrylic/charcoal

Wendy Noe, AKA Kamikaze Bluesprings, came up with a kind of filmstrip with a kind of Elizabeth Peyton reverence.

Guantanamo Laid Mixed media on canvas board

Booder Barnes, AKA Lucky Meadow, had a piece that kept people wondering “Vaginal or Anal”? We still aren’t sure, and didn’t ask, though the votes went the way of rectum. Someone was heard to say “pink?” This is a bit of a distant and sideways installation shot, so let me say there is a toy snake in the middle of the “meadow”.

Lucky Meadow Lycra, exercise ball, foam insulation, found objects

John Ryan AKA Dead-Eye Dick “Singing Tombstone” stainless steel

Lee Jines, AKA Lettuce Cedar

“Slugger and His Devoted Dog Slugger”
toilet paper rolls, clay, wood, marble, doll eyes
“A very Clear Knock-off of Damien Hirst’s
$100,000,000. Diamond Encrusted Skull”
genuine sequin-covered Styrofoam skull, clay teeth
“The Gift”
found aluminum from street, heavy concrete farm thingee

Seva, AKA T.C.Ellis, looks like he was the victim of a wife or son who likes to take sneaky candid shots. He appears to be coming from the bath in a towel? He is waiting for Fluffy? Greater minds than mind may have to tackle this.

T.C.Ellis "Waiting for Fluffy" digital photo

Sara Blair McNally, AKA Chloe Garden, kept her work unusually clean due to the knowledge that bother her parents would be attending. It is unavoidable, seeing that Norman Magden, UTK’s professor of Media Art, is also the president of A1LabArts. She really wanted to do something quite cruddy, but with such a sweet sounding Porn Star name, blending flowers with carefully cropped portraits did the job.

Chloe Garden Photography

My parents are 1,000 miles away, but even if they had come, I wouldn’t have changed anything I considered doing. I learned everything from them, though, as of late, my mother is trying to be strictly high brow, which only encourages me to be more obnoxious. Some people never really fully leave adolescence. I consider it a good thing.
I’m Denise Stewart-Sanabria, AKA Cookie Savage. I used to be an obsessive type girl scout that earned every badge in the handbook, so I’ve returned to that moment and fused it with Rachel Welch’s poster image from one of the 20th Century’s greatest films, 10 Million Years BC. I decided to use my husband, Roberto Sanabria, AKA Toby Garcia, as my amorous Paleolithic hunting quarry. I gave his image some liposuction and his old college hair back so he would be enthusiastic. He had tried to eat one of the oven bake clay ceramic chocolate chip cookies I made for artillary and got pissed off at one point.

Cookie Savage “Hunting Toby Garcia” enamel paint, paint marker on wood, ceramic, suede

I decided to do a second piece, based on Timothy Greenfield Sanders series of photographs of nude and clothed Porn Stars. I ran into them at Pulse Art Fair at Miami Basel in 2007, and found them interesting. Who better than Barbie and Ken? After all Barbie was designed after the style of German sex dolls of the early 20th century.

Cookie Savage
“Barbie and Ken Like Timothy Greenfield Sanders”photography

Most A1 exhibits include some poetry, and we were provided with some for this. It seems a to shed light on the life of a retired Porn Star?

The old gal with the beat-up umbrella goes for a walk
with her dog twice a day, rain or shine. Her house on the corner
is full of broken clocks, and the ones that do work
aren’t set right. The place waves a ragged goodbye to its former
splendifity, creaking and groaning like her as she works
her slow way up its stairs. At dark from a third-floor dormer
a light glows: the spot where she scribbles all night and talks
to herself and the dog. She raises the sash when it’s warmer,
lets in her muses, delights in the light of the moon.
Some say she’s loony; who cares? She follows the Tao,
never could swallow “the Secret,” nor does she see how
intelligent folks can buy into that. Still, she knows soon
her novel will be a best-seller made into a film,
its title a popular catch-phrase throughout the realm.

Marshmallow McLean AKA Kay Newton


Complete list of Porn Star Name Artists

David Pease ~ Goldie Wexgate
Lee Jines ~ Lettuce Cedar
Alan Finch ~ Red Penix
Denise Stewart-Sanabria ~ Cookie Savage
Jorge Gomez del Campo ~ Rubio Aquilar Estrada
Heather Harrison ~ Cleopatra Young
Anonymous (I don’t know why-she just went chicken)
Jason R Scott ~ Little Bear Claymont
John Fairstein ~ Rainshine Ontario
Kim Young ~ Magdalena Village Way
L. P. ~ Sasha Bews
Alexandra Spinosa ~ Strawberry High
Chris Spinosa ~ Baby ThornwoodNeranza Blount ~ Sneška Ivanovich
Booder Barnes ~ Lucky Meadow
Frank Hebert ~ Maxi Lauderdale
Kay Newton ~ Marshmallow McLeon
Wendy Noe ~ Kamikaze Bluesprings
Sara Blair McNally ~ Chloe Garder
John Ryan ~ Dead Eye DickSeva ~ T.C.Ellis