Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie is curator Todd Pavlisko’s homecoming potluck for misfits, with contributions from six artists and 10 local collectors attracted to contemporary works outside the mainstream. Two shows in one, Gimmie draws its title and Punk inspiration from the Black Flag song of the same name, featuring the lyrics, “I need some more / Don’t know what for.”
Touring the collectors’ exhibit in the Weston Art Gallery’s lower level is like visiting a holiday dinner set up in the basement for angst-ridden adolescents and eccentric aunts and uncles. Both are minimalist spaces where provocative and thoughtful discourse takes place, unexpected pairings work and you discover that ideas you originally thought were weird are actually cool.
Collector George Kurz admits to that kind of revelation himself. One piece he contributed to Gimmie is a hanging sculpture of plastic bottles from New York artist Tony Feher. “I remember seeing his work for the first time probably 10 years ago in a New York gallery, and I was totally confused,” Kurz says in an email interview. “I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that something so slight could actually be art. It was only after seeing his work every so often over the next half-dozen years that it started to make sense.”
Local photographer John Carrico also takes visitors out of their comfort zones as he departs from his usual medium with the neon installation “Too Drunk to Fuck.” The piece appropriates artwork from the Dead Kennedys’ single of that name. Equally startling is its placement in the rafters — a suggestion from Weston director Dennis Harrington that is, well, effing brilliant. At a gallery talk, Carrico said the Weston’s self-censorship reminded him of owning the 45 as a teen. “You had to hide it,” he said. “You didn’t leave it on the bed.”
Pavlisko was the artist behind Crown, the 2014 exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum for which he arranged to have a sharpshooter fire a rifle through the Schmidlapp Gallery and into a brass cube. Those who interpreted disrespect then hopefully will now feel Pavlisko’s admiration of Cincinnati’s art community.
In a talk introducing Gimmie, the Cincinnati native shared his enthusiasm for reconnecting with familiar faces while working on Crown and for making new friends at Brandeis University, where he now teaches after living in New York. Two Brandeis colleagues are in this show.
“I’m bringing my new family into my old world of Cincinnati,” Pavlisko said, comparing the exhibition’s controlled chaos to “garage-level artmaking.”
In that spirit, Brandeis professor Joe Wardwell has created 96 purposely imperfect posters of “Gimmie” lyrics. Each is hand-printed. “You can see my fingerprints, and where an ‘I’ tilts to one side,” Wardwell pointed out. They cover a side of the upper gallery. “I wanted it to feel like a wheat-pasted wall; like a concert,” he said. He started each image with a landscape painting, then added an abstract layer and stenciling. Dark and fluorescent colors convey early-’80s anxiety about nuclear holocaust, as well as today’s concerns about the environment.
Appropriately, the last wall upstairs is dominated by Cincinnati’s own good-guy-done-bad, Pete Rose. Adam Henry, Carrico’s partner at Alias Imaging, said he thought about figures who are “the punks of their existence,” and came up with Gandhi and Rose. Hometown pride won.
“He bet on his own team to win — that’s Punk Rock,” said Henry, who spraypainted a version of the baseball star’s signature. So Rose, who now makes money selling his autograph to collectors, unknowingly has his tag on a subversive exhibit about collecting.
No one has a “non-reaction” to it, Henry observed. That includes a passerby who Pavlisko thought had the best Punk line of all: “Aw, fuck Pete Rose.”
GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE is on display through Jan. 17 at the Weston Art Gallery downtown. Pavlisko and the collectors give a free gallery talk 7 p.m. Thursday. More info: cincinnatiarts.org.