Sunday, May 8, 2011

Back for another run... Adams Avenue

Greetings from along time ago…three years and I still don’t write consistently. Once again I will try and push some bemused benighted and perhaps less than benign thoughts.

Last night went to the “Night on Adams” event . Bookstores, art galleries, art supply stores, ice cream shops and most of the other cute places on Adams were open until 9pm and offered deals and special events. Could develop a real Old Town Pasadena vibe if the city would stop throwing all the redevelopment money (not that THAT game can go on for much longer) downtown. But if success would only mean an Urban Outfitters next to Back from Tomboctou - forget about it!

As opposed to any other Saturday night, there didn’t appear to be too much additional activity. But after walking a few blocks east of the 805 bridge clusters of musicians on the sidewalks strumming folky riffs in front of an ice cream store and a pop up store of lady’s apparel in front of Blind Lady Ale House it was obvious that there was a bit more fun tonight.

The real draw was the 20% off sale at Adams Street Books. Found two out of print books by Anthony Blunt (the art historian and soviet spy) on Sicilian Baroque and Borromini. Good times!

Another interest was the exhibit of Tijuana artists at Adams Point Gallery. Called “Tijuana Ahora” it features 11 artists who work in TJ and the gallery claims this is the first exhibit of their work in the US. I wish I had made the opening - group shows are much better with a crowd and more difficult to assess alone, especially if only one piece is included. These brief introductions to the artists are frustrating - not sure how the piece fits in with the rest of their work, if an anomaly (good or bad), or, if unmoved and uncertain what the artist might be trying to do, just not so great.

The group show with a crowd is a bit like sharing tapas - you can quickly find the popular ones and the ones with octopus that some may avoid, but have some unusual combination or flavor. The artist that jumped out at me was Mario Rodriguez. Represented by three densely detailed and overworked pencil sketches, these pieces were like the fever dream of a bored high school student channeling intense and disturbing visions on the back of a school notebook.

Naïve and sophisticated at once, the smudged and then precise pencil shadings open up a world one part de Chirico, one part Dali, a bit of Bosch, maybe some Bruegel. Arcades reminiscent of a Venetian capriccio are haunted by figures watching a black leaden sea that seems to fall off the face of the earth. These could illustrate lost chapters of a Renaissance allegory. The language is gone but the poetry remains.