Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose

Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose

Akron Art Museum • Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

February 11 – May 7, 2017

Opening Party February 10

Contemporary artists have access to unfathomable amounts of information and imagery, from art history to pop culture, from psychology to botany, from nearby and around the world. Artists working today also have wide freedom to experiment with styles, techniques and subject matter, and to blend traditional art practices with their contemporary views and interpretations of the world.

Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose highlights fifty-one living artists. They come from around the world with different perspectives and approaches to art-making, and express distinctive voices and visions through their work. Each has been featured in the popular art magazine Hi-Fructose, a San Francisco-based publication that covers and promotes artists and artworks within a recognizable but not easily defined aesthetic. Richly layered narrative imagery, renderings in vivid color or brooding gray tones, stylized figures and imagined creatures are just some of the recurring elements in the magazine and in this exhibition celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Turn the Page offers the opportunity to view lush original works of art, beyond the flat worlds of paper and digital screens where they are most often seen.

Though their subjects and styles are radically diverse, all the artists featured in Turn the Page demonstrate mastery of their chosen media. From oil paintings and drawings, to porcelain and bronze sculptures, video and mixed media artworks, both new and traditional artistic processes are represented.

Mark Ryden  The Meat Train (No. 23), 2000 Oil on canvas 17 x 23 inches Private Collection © Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden
The Meat Train (No. 23), 2000
Oil on canvas
17 x 23 inches
Private Collection
© Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden is best known for his detailed oil paintings of wide-eyed, doll-like figures, Abraham Lincoln and chunks of meat. A forerunner of a style often described as “Pop Surrealist” or “Lowbrow,” Ryden is one of several artists in Turn the Page whose surreal images reflect and reference popular culture, from music to animation. Sam Gibbons directly responds to icons of Disney animation in his Four Horsemen, which depicts Mickey Mouse and other characters as the deathly messengers of the apocalypse. Gibbons cites both the artist Philip Guston and the cartoonist R. Crumb as influences on his art. Camille Rose Garcia retells fairy tales and creates new stories in her glitter-embellished acrylic paintings, reframing familiar narratives and archetypal characters from a feminist and often dark perspective.

Surreal imagery and experiences often come from unexpected juxtapositions of objects, spaces or ideas. In Scott Hove’s sculptures, gaping predatorial animal maws emerge from bejeweled and cherry-topped frosted cakes that seem fit for a party. AJ Fosik’s three-dimensional wood wall relief The Abyss Stares Back similarly layers a double-tongued skull between the teeth of a beast. Jennybird Alantara also absorbs a variety of influences in creating her surrealistic paintings of female figures that morph between human, animal and plant. In Creatures of Saintly Disguise, Alcantara renders a figure with a human face, arms, hands and legs in explicit detail. The eight legs, however, are each capped with a hoof—and parts of her body seem to dissolve into flora.

Several artists in Turn the Page have worked as or were influenced by street and graffiti artists, including Ron English, Shepard Fairey and Jeff Soto. Lisa Nilsson and Tiffany Bozic interpret forms from the natural world. Kate MacDowell, Beth Cavener and Barnaby Barford use traditional ceramic media to sculpt animals that relate to the human condition, while Kris Kuksi assembles found objects into intricate sculptures and Brian Dettmer carefully excavates images and texts out of books that have been made obsolete by searchable online databases. For a complete list of artists represented and related programs, visit the museum’s website.

Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose is organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.  Generous funding is provided by the City of Virginia Beach, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, as well as other MOCA supporters.