Did you see me last week? Here’s the review before I went back and changed some things:
You’ve heard the fishing story ’bout the big one that got away, right? Well, have you heard ’bout the one that everyone catches? From Lake Austin to Bauchman Lake, up to Kankakee River, down in Boggy Creek and even in Lake Pacific Ocean, a monster of a catfish has been hooked, lined and sunk. Can you tell I’ve never gone fishing?
Currently at the Donkey Show, artist Buster Graybill presents the finer points of a good day out at the lake in his solo show “Oklahoma Snorkel”. You got your boat ready? Check. Inner tube? Check. Cooler? Check. Grill? Check. Walking into the gallery you’ll find a boat motor sitting on a sawhorse with its propeller dipping into a tank full of murky water. From around the corner you can hear the revving of the motor coming from the accompanying video. A life-like sculpture of a giant catfish was installed in front of the gallery for opening night. On the wall are polaroids of individuals with their “big catch”. Intertwined inner tubes bulge out from the windows while an assemblage of blue coolers projects another video into a side room. From a folding lawn chair you can watch Mr. Graybill fillet a large catfish on top of a dangerous makeshift table. In the center of the gallery you’ll find a skillet holding a small group of catfish atop a Judd-esque stove.
At first glance, the gallery may seem sparsely filled with water park supplies. It is true that most pieces were created using ready-made material, but they are deftly presented with formal skill and knowledge. Although Mr. Graybill’s work feels considerably laid back, the inner tubes suggest something of a nod towards Chakaia Booker (recently seen at AMOA this summer). Both artists twist the material and allow its surface and scent to be familiar yet exotic. It is this play of what we know about three day weekends spent down by the river or lake versus the industrial, Minimalist essence of Donald Judd (read Marfa) that permeates the show. In the video “Get’N Groceries,” the artist has placed the large fish on a pad-mounted transformer with the high voltage warning clearly visible. We watch as the the fish is cut, flipped, sliced… take a sip of beer… cut, flipped, sliced, until all that’s left is a big bowl of meat ready for grillin’. The frame setup is compositionally dynamic and whenever the artist steps out of view, we are left with an image shouting out classic still life setup.
After watching the video you may be inclined to wonder what kind of redneck would so carelessly setup shop on such a volatile location. Or you may be inclined to wonder what kind of a hoity-toity snob would contemplate so deeply about preparing dinner. So Buster Graybill is no Rachel Ray, but catfish nuggets sound pretty good right about now.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.