"I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold."
The trash goddesses of Los Angeles--porn models, Paris Hilton with a curling Scorpion's tail, a dozen nearly identical pink-clad teen actresses grouped for a cover shoot, somebody who looks like Twiggy painted on Plexiglass with a target etched over her face--are mounted on the walls that surround four large new painted wood and metal and plastic sculptures by Jason Meadows. The Vertigo-swirl of the wall-mounted pieces depicting rather cheap, sexy women envelops the signature sharp angles, C-clamps and broomhandle protrusions of Meadows' excellent, of-the-(anxious)-moment sculptures.
The exhibit is entitled "Life On Mars," and the forms of the three-dimensional works depict fits and starts and flayed angles--akimbo action that betrays a desire to escape earth's gravity, a desire that has been frustrated by panicky flight in every direction. Meadows would have grown up in the golden age of the future--space travel and Star Wars and a jet pack on every back--but these playfully sober works leave behind the optimsim of escape to outer space to depict entrapment there. The weird "a-head-here, a-foot-there" semi-human forms that crop up in three of the sculptures speak to the astronaut marooned far from home, with only artificial intelligence (retarded robots? schizo servos?) for company. The chicks on the walls in this light might be a soldier's pin-ups in some future space barracks.
The forms and objects clinging to these sculptures resonate with temporary containment and ad hoc withholding: six pack rings, shoelaces, clamps and staples and garbage bag ties serve as the glue that hold it together (or in) for just one more minute. The lines in Meadows' sculptures point to outer space, but they also echo the rhizome that moves in every direction as it burrows underground.
In this show, Meadows names one work I really dig "The Miner." When I visited Meadows' studio last fall I remarked that the metal and welding equipment and jagged saws reminded me of Vulcan at his forge. Vulcan, the Roman god of blacksmiths, lived underground at the base of a volcano, where he fashioned Zeus' thunderbolts and the arrows for the god of love, Eros. The works in this show display a similar facility with both ass-kicking and ass-kissing. With their gorgeous colors and shiny surfaces that meet jagged forms and raw edges, Meadows demonstrates the Manichean sleight-of-hand of one hand caressing as the other slaps.
Lest we forget, Vulcan was also the god that formed the first woman from clay to give human males some exciting company. Her name was Pandora ("all gifts") and from her supernatural box she released all the evils of the world on mankind: crazy hollow earthers and UFO enthusiasts, rip-off credit cards, cheap red high heels, Paris Hilton. Meadows' she-devils and android miners find uneasy purchase together on this lonely planet, scooping up clods of dirt embedded with glimmers of worth like flecks of hope.
In "Stripped Opportunity" a mirror disk embedded with smaller facets of mirror is balanced carefully at the center of the work. This fractured silver surface seems to be the broken creature's heart. This small yet powerful device may also be the metaphor at the center of the show "Life On Mars" itself: a faceted jewel made with diamonds found in the Los Angeles dung heap, reflecting whatever light manages to fall on it all across the universe.
"Life On Mars" by Jason Meadows is now on view at Marc Foxx Gallery in Los Angeles.
Link: MARC FOXX.