Last year I had the distinct pleasure of making these collages for the interior of HomeMakers Bar in Cincinnati. Each collage spotlights a different era – 50’s, 60’s, 70s, playfully subverting the traditional iconography of homemaking, cocktail culture, and swank entertaining. In the words of their inspired founders Julia Petiprin, Catherine Manabat, HomeMakers Bar is “a slightly retro, mostly modern cocktail bar that feels like a house party.” While I can only admire the delightful food and drink offerings virtually, I can say that the space and decor is a showstopper. It is, I think, hard to pull of something fresh in a “retro” mode and HomeMakers Bar has clearly emerged as a singular creative and culinary statement that easily transcends its original inspirations. (More interior images can be found on the portfolio page, here.)
PLAGUE UPDATE: With considerable trepidation, I checked in on HomeMakers Bar recently and was ecstatic to see that they are rising to the moment with their signature verve and flair – sharing recipes, hosting cocktail hours, workshops, hangs, and general bonhomie. If you can support them in any way, do. Fucking bravo!
Inert and broken rulers measuring only their own lengths, street signs so densely clustered they tie the very idea of place into a thick knot, stadium diagrams and timetables rotated and overprinted until they blur into unparsable eddies of information… at the heart of Greg Colson’s work lies a desire to scramble, smear, or re-frame the established order of things meant to communicate a sense of order. That all the work still emanates a steady signal of pure information imbues it with a bracing clarity, while the degree to which familiar information is scrambled accounts for it’s fascinating power. I discovered Colson’s work in a remaindered copy of Giuseppe Panza: Memories of a Collector. Panza was a fervent enthusiast of post WWII modern art and among the earliest collectors of Rauchenburg, Rothko, Kline, and Lichtenstein (and a foundational donor to the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum). The book abounds in seminal and lesser known works by the greats (his Franz Kline collection is definitive) as well as top shelf lesser known artists, like Colson. Huge score, still in print, available here.
As with most great pop art, the pleasures of Mimmo Rotella’s decollages are simple ones – expressive technique, flashy subjects, and a lusty joie de vive. Rotella tore away at lurid, glamorous and melodramatic Italian ads and movie posters, ripping and chemically dissolving them into something essential. In each case what is revealed is a burst of pure expression: shards of glamour, rough tapestries of melodrama, and blurts of type. Although critical appreciations of his work are often barnacled with pomo foolishness, they lead to fascinating places. He was a member of a European variant of Pop art called Nouveau Réalisme, which was founded in Paris by Yves Klein. Related philosophically and aesthetically to the Dada and Fluxus movements, it will certainly be a subject of further research… (By the way, what is it with all the Italians around here lately? Boldini, Disco Volante, now Rotella, an upcoming post on Virna Lisi…)