(Images in this post are linked to the URLs from the following page where you can view all works in the exhibition http://www.kenney-mencher.com/catalog/recent_work.htm. )
I came upon the contest too late, missed the opening (out of town) so last Saturday made my way into ArtHaus (a SOMA San Francisco Gallery at 411 Brannan http://www.arthaus-sf.com/exhibits/ ) and stood alone amidst a crowd of strangers together with their assemblaged/collaged/painted attributes recreating the narratives of their invented lives. Great moment!
I am viewing the cool new work of Kenney Mencher, an exhibition which almost functions as an installation with all of its interconnectivity and creation of a new world where fictional (yet in the past real) people live and share their (fictional) stories.
The viewer is (and was) invited to recreate and reinvent the lives (see http://www.kenney-mencher.com/Renovated_Reputations_Mencher.pdf ) of these anonymous portraits some who are given names, in somewhat of a Duchampion fashion, with puns such as Izzy Anartiste, a small oil on wood, or other works such as Pat O. Butter and Melba Toast .
The investigation of visual culture in Kenney Mencher’s works reference a sense of past time and place – as they say ‘vintage’ ; note in Burt and Melba’s Thank You Note the carefully selected use of wallpaper pattern, the image and typeface used on the card, the handwritten list.
I read a lot into the work titled Evan Tually with the tie in of the pasted comic and its narrative juxtaposed with the portrait. Each work functions as an individualized statement inviting the viewer to connect the dots by creating a narrative – there is no repeat.
The portraits surrounding me are not a replay of a nostalgic past or great times gone by – they borrow from ideas connected to pulp fiction and contain an aura of the not so innocent or at times sinister created using expressions along with assemblaged/collaged/painted attributes.
Each viewer is given a brief interactive moment to create their own version of ‘flash fiction’. While looking at the Constance Noring Elementary there is this familiar but has-been feeling. Like a mirrored past – could we see ourselves this way in 70 years? How will we be interpreted? Painted in neutrals, browns, with traces of color, these express as an old-time photograph denied with assemblaged measuring tape.
The stories/narratives, identities of these unknowns within each of these paintings fascinate and the idea of asking the viewer to interact in this way is discovered to be delightful (makes me want to write fiction!) The combinations of media and images work on many levels. An exhibition that is very worth viewing and of course, collectible.