Curse you, Regina Spektor

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Box, Alex Keyes

It’s been raining and hailing lately, and my soundtrack has been that new song by Regina Spektor called “All the Rowboats.” Experience the brooding theatrics:

It’s quite the techno diversion for an indie pop queen, but the lyrics are classic Regina. She visits an art museum- or “tomb”- and gives it her peculiar, melancholy spin.

“First there’s lights out, then there’s lock up/
Masterpieces serving maximum sentences/
It’s their own fault for being timeless/
There’s a price to pay, and a consequence”

Great, Regina. If kids these days don’t think museums are boring, now they’ll think they’re creepy. Mausoleums indeed!

I can’t get enough of the tune though, and it has colored my perception of the art I’ve seen lately. Like, for example, it was blasting through my headphones for the 87th time when I entered “Sam and the Boys,” the Laverne Krause exhibition by first-year MFA students.

“They will hang there, in their gold frames/ For forever, forever and a day,” screamed Regina as I spun through a claustrophobic cardboard corridor. Go to 1:20 in that video and you’ll see sort of exactly what happened. It was like that Duchamp painting but with less nudity.

Then, at the height of my frenzy, I stumbled straight into all of the MFA students discussing their show.

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I pulled out my headphones and stared dumbly at the circle of artists. Alex Keyes was discussing his Box labyrinth, which I’d just nearly trampled.

“I wanted it to be a kind of playground,” he explained. The piece is a grand throwback to childhood, when a giant box could be anything we imagined.

As the group moved on through the corridors, I realized just how blind I’d been. Regina, you are my siren and your pretty weird song is the rocky shore.

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I passed through the boxes again, this time much more slowly. Other gallery goers navigating the maze laughed as they hit dead ends and peered through cracks. This was a piece with a sense of humor.

The sides of the enormous boxes are divided into giant grids with masking tape. My freed mind was picking up on cheeky references to abstract expressionism. The boxes are almost like giant sketches or 3-D models of Rothkos or Mondrians. It’s color field painting minus the color… and the painting.

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Eight Images/One Photograph, Jonathan Bagby

Keyes’ piece divides his classmates’ art into three little isolation pods. A mixed media monstrosity called “Do’s and Don’ts In Bear Country” was garnering most of the attention, but I was more interested in the other side of the room. Jonathan Bagby, who we last saw in the BROSHOW (FOSHO) SHOW, fleshed out the Box conversation with an abstract composition of his own. Stark white lines divide a mysterious ether that could be anything from wisps of smoke to Jell-O puke.

To the left of Bagby’s photograph sits Keyes’ most triumphant box. In the center of a tiny square, which at first seems to be just another part of the composition, is a hole through which you can see…

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Alex Keyes and John Whitten

Can you tell what it is? Go and play, and maybe you’ll find out. But leave your shiny iThings at home.

Confidential to Rosie: I really meant it about that art walk!

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