Art Review

The 42nd Juried Exhibition offers a feast for the eyes and the mind  

Inside the Lyndon House Arts Center comes a wide array of artworks from the Athens area for the 42nd Juried Exhibition. Juror, Susan Krane, of the San Jose Museum of Art. Krane had the task of curating 797 submissions down to the 168 works on display with the goal of choosing art pieces that stood out above the status quo of just being visually appealing. After attending the exhibition, I can confidently say Krane achieved their mission. The artworks were infused with sentiment from oil paintings that told a narrative, to photographs offering interesting insights into the world, and even one person’s admiration for the film, Rocky, which, to be fair, is a great movie.

One artistic voice that caught my attention was Wade Sheldon through his work, “NOLA”, a color photograph print. The photo depicts a black man walking down a street in New Orleans wearing an all-white suit with a hat and tie decorated like the American flag. The man is holding onto a leash attached to a puppy that appears to have a cigar in his mouth, and the puppy is looking at a bucket with dollar bills attached to it. Meanwhile, the bystanders on the street are either staring at the man or are going about their day. From the outset, this photograph is just plain bizarre. However, I think it speaks to the spirt of New Orleans, in that I can’t imagine this photo taking place anywhere else. The multicolored buildings, the interesting character, and the strange scenario itself reflects a funny, almost festive atmosphere which fits a city that’s known for its Mardi Gras celebration.

On a more serious note, Cameron Bliss’ “I wish we could go back”, an oil painting, ask us to imagine a life. The painting features two teenage girls sitting on a titled bathroom floor and a blue titled background with each tile having its own design. One girl has long, black hair, is wearing a blue coat, fishnet stockings and gray boots. While the other girl has shorter hair in a bob cut fashion and is wearing nothing but a black dress with gray stripes. When looking at the girls, you notice how they have wireframe physiques giving the impression that they are malnourished. Also, considering the heavy use of makeup and the tight clothing, I imagined a scenario that these two girls are homeless and must sell their bodies to feed themselves. Perhaps, they are in the bathroom getting ready for another night. When staring into the eyes of the blue coat woman, you can’t help but imagine that these two women have a difficult life. They are wishing to go back to a simpler time before the world took their innocence away.

Finally, there was one piece that brought about a feeling of nostalgia from me. M Anteau, “It Came from Outer Space”, is an ink and photoshop piece that resembles two comic book pages. The story within the comic pages addresses you, as the viewer takes on the persona of a teenaged boy.  On the first page, the narrator makes the argument that you are trying to bury yourself into a world of light and sound to distract from your aimless life.  On the second page, the narrator basically tells you to leave behind the mundane aspects of life and embrace the unknown when it’s calling your name.

The colors in this piece are captivating as the world is saturated in cool colors like blues and greens except for the main character who is covered in warmer colors like reds and oranges. The characters are drawn in simple, geometric shapes with thick outlines giving them this cartoony look. The only thing I can compare this art style to is the work of Ryuta Ueda, the art director for the video game Jet Set Radio, a game I played in my youth. The work evokes a punk, rebel- against-the-machine attitude that permeated my favorite pieces of media in the early 2000s. Does a 22-year-old man have the right to feel nostalgic about the past?

The fact that I left the 42nd Juried Exhibition with my mind racing with different thoughts and feelings is a testament to the pieces on display and the hard work of Krane. This review only scratches the surface of what the 42nd Juried Exhibition has to offer. If you want to see work deemed worthy by Krane, then pay attention to any merit award winners, my personal favorites include Hannah Ehrlich’s “After & Therefore Because” and Phoebe Szymanski’s “Searching.” The Exhibition is running from March 23 to May 6 and it’s free to the public.

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Classical Music Review

HOCKET explores the power of music through complex compositions

 The piano duo, HOCKET, composed of Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff, put their mastery on display for a composition residency recital performed at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia. What made this recital unique was that the works were written by contemporary composers from across the nation. The pieces abandoned the melody and harmony of classical music and instead experimented with tempo and tonality to provoke emotion. This spirit of experimentation coupled with HOCKET’s expertise leaves you with an experience that’s puzzling to the ears but stimulating for the brain.

The way HOCKET performed the music was fascinating to watch because it wasn’t just about performing the piece perfectly, but also interpreting the work in interesting ways. In Byrd/Cage, composed by Derek Tywoniuk, Gibson performed the song with her hands hanging in the air after hitting each note giving her movements this ghostly feeling. Meanwhile, Thomas manipulated the insides of the piano from pulling on the piano strings to hitting the strings with a small mallet. The haunting movements of Gibson and the piano manipulation of Kotcheff gave the work a melancholic vibe, fitting the nature of the piece which is meant to reflect about death.

Another piece worth highlighting is Slow the Light, composed by Jordan Nelson. This piece was intriguing because it played with the idea of resonance which means letting the note ring out after it has been played. There was a certain beauty to sitting back and listening as the note transformed from one pitch to another almost like witnessing a butterfly emerge from a cocoon.  More than any other piece, Gibson and Kotcheff were the most in sync here, not least of which because they each had their own piano positioned in a way to make direct eye contact. The connection shared between HOCKET through their call and response performance gave the piece a warm, loving atmosphere, which was not present in the other works.

If you’re the type of person that just wants to relax to music while sipping brandy and wearing a silk robe, then this concert is not going to be your cup of tea or brandy, so to speak. However, if you have an interest in the avant-garde? Then you will appreciate the craftsmanship of HOCKET’s performance and the intention of the many composers to push the medium of classical music.

Pop Music Review

Rising EDM star brings house shattering beats to Georgia Theatre

In a darkened room with the air scented by alcohol and vape smoke, a huddled mass of humanity congregated around the stage at the Georgia Theatre on Saturday, March 18. During the brief burst of light given off by the screens, you could see the jubilant faces of the huddled mass. The views varied from bros hugging each other to girls shaking their posteriors, a classy way to say assess, to hands waving in the air like they just don’t care.

Then TroyBoi from atop the stage, silhouetted by the lights behind him, increased the tempo of the beat until finally releasing that sweet, tasty bass drop. From there, the crowd went wild jumping up in unison and shouting out the name, TroyBoi. And to think, you probably spent that midnight snuggled up in bed.

It takes a great artist to warrant such a reaction from the crowd and TroyBoi is worthy of such admiration. TroyBoi creates electronic dance music, a genre of music that heavily features percussive instruments and is produced for dancing environments. TroyBoi differentiates himself from others by including musical influences such as hip-hop, trap music, and world music into his work calling it “My Style.”

This personal touch makes his music seem finely crafted and not just something a robot could produce. TroyBoi’s music is insanely rhythmic with electronic instruments in the foreground and a drum beat in the back with the occasional rap verse thrown into the mix. His music accomplishes the main goal of EDM, as EDM is not something you listen to, but something you dance to.

The entire experience felt communal as everyone was enraptured by the music and abandoned all their worries through dance. Even I had to put aside my nerdy, note taking persona for a second and engage in a dance battle with some toga wearing, frat bros. Nothing feels quite like standing on a dance floor as the speakers are blaring and the sound waves are moving through your body. For a brief second, you and the music become one and the same.

TroyBoi’s performance of the Mantra tour was an incredible adrenaline rush from start to finish. Now, I’m not one that frequently attends EDM concerts, so maybe that adrenaline rush came partly from the novelty of it all. However, I still can’t get over witnessing the crowd throw themselves at TroyBoi while he was delivering some of the freshest beats this side of the Milky Way. You would be hard-pressed to find a greater three-hour distraction from your troubles than this concert.