Halloween Hooligans - Art Collector

Bill Mutter and Scooter LaForge, installation view, Theodore:Art, Bushwick, 2015. Courtesy: the artists and Theodore:Art, New York
David Gilbert The Secret Garden, installation view, Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, 2015. Courtesy: the artist and Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York
  By Jessica Holburn

Apt to the Halloween season here in New York, Theodore:Art in Bushwick opened Ready For Mayhem, a two-artist show featuring the zany works of Scooter LaForge and Bill Mutter. Pop culture meets avant-garde hooliganism galore with a festive garden party type of feel, in which the gallery is filled to the brim with Mutter’s ceramic sculptures of children in Halloween costumes and baby doll monsters in cradles filled with lollipops, scattered around the gallery on beds of dry autumnal leaves, like deranged garden gnomes. Mutter evokes childhood memories, from comic book heroes to circus freaks.

Circus clowns are also a frequent motif in LaForge’s paintings, in one instance depicted as spectators in a mortuary, akin to a morbid circus, in others their faces emerge out of chaotic, gestural scribbles. In other painting a well-hung teenage mutant ninja turtle is surrounded by a frame of studs and nails. LaForge is originally from New Mexico but has been operating in the New York art world for over a decade. In tandem with his art practice he is also a fashion designer, creating fabric for Belgian designer Walter van Beirendonck and making hand embellished clothes for stylist Patricia Fields, formerly Sex in the City. Even Beyoncé has been spotted wearing one of his trench coats with a clown face (of which sparked some pretty silly controversy that I won’t get into here but you can Google it.) In this exhibition you get a taste of his wearable art, such as the tormented tie-dyed t-shirt hung from a coat hanger on the wall with the words: “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I COULD KILL MYSELF” inscribed in blue paint. LaForge straddles a fine balance of the satirical and the suicidal in his work.

Stephanie Theodore, director of Theodore Art, explains how this collaboration came to be: “I met Bill through [his wife] Betty Tompkins and thought his work was perfect with Scooter. Bill is of a generation of sculptors that synthesized pop and realism, and his work in ceramic was revolutionary.”

This entry wouldn’t be complete without making mention of Los Angeles-based artist David Gilbert with his current exhibition at Klaus Gallery in the Lower East Side, titled The Secret Garden, of which he also revisits childhood remnants through a series of photographs depicting his studio. The studio is here conceived as a makeshift space for experimentation and play. Butterflies, floral curtains and forlorn old fabric adorn each composition; such artefacts are configured in a manner that is both stylised and spontaneous, allowing natural light to drift into the artificial lights. This work was typified by performance pieces by Gilbert in collaboration with Paul Pescador, in which disjointed narratives are played out in cardboard cut-out costumes against a starry night backdrop, like kids performing for their parents, a mix of joy and lament for the disjuncture between our adult selves and our childhood memory. While at Klaus, be sure to catch the still life paintings by Holly Coulis as well.

All shows run through to 6 December 2015.

Share this page: