Lobster Dinner presents the works of over forty contemporary artists working across drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography. While technically the exhibition is a "small works" show, featuring work 12 inches and under, the works included are certainly not defined by this limitation. On the contrary, many of the works feel expansive and ambitious, despite the physical constraints of being “small”.
Oftentimes, works of a more intimate scale can have a novelty factor surrounding them - look how tiny! I want to put that in my pocket! - or are viewed as sketches or preparatory drawings for larger works - stand-ins for works to come in the future. That is definitely not the case here: loud, ferocious, hilarious, and declaratory, the works in Lobster Dinner shed the stereotype of preciousness. They are fully realized ideas, entities, and objects in their own right, not just little pockets pointing to another thing that is physically larger, but individual, weird galaxies in and of themselves. They pack a punch.
Take Gracelee Lawrence's External Chamber of Acute Sensation, which at first seems to function as a celebratory banner of sorts. Upon further inspection it reveals an outstretched arm tangled with a pair of hands from another individual. A stranger? Are they beckoning us closer? Is it a secret handshake? A sexual handshake? Mel Arzamarski’s The Ocean features intertwined hands with flaming fingernails and is similarly discomforting, eerie, foreboding and ultimately encouraging. Both works look like they could have been taken straight from the opening credits of an episode of “Black Mirror”, with those sickly mint hands welcoming and proudly communicating a hidden alliance or a forgotten code, proclaiming “Welcome to the show! Come hither, if you dare...”
Stacy Petty's Pumpkin Twist occupies a parallel ambiguous mental and physical space. A seemingly recognizable and friendly landscape has a darker, extra-terrestrial quality to it, with something unnerving which looms in your immediate space. Katie Holden's Open Search playfully mimics the display screen on an iPhone, albeit one in a quasi-hallucinatory state with emoji rainbows framing the top register of the screen. Alejandro Macias’ A Color That Can Only Be Obtained Through Mixing II is a MadLibs-type approach to portraiture, in which the top half of an individual’s face is sliced and replaced with seemingly abstract lines in primary colors against a pea green background. Are these lines identity markers? A generic pattern that is a stand-in for the self?
Breanne Trammell’s SPRTS, a colored pencil drawing featuring a brown bear holding a blue balloon on a blue sweatshirt, sums it up: “If It Weren’t For Volleyball I Couldn’t Bear It!” Replace “volleyball” with your choice of activity/distraction/altered mental space, and you’ve got yourself a lobster dinner for one.