The moment you walked into Corridor 2122 last night at ArtHop you could feel it: there was a buzz in the air, an electricity, a crackle of excitement. The fifth annual edition of the summer show “Splash” was here, and it was clear that curator William Raines had once again whipped together a lively, provocative, sophisticated show that he subtitles “Altered Narratives.”
One thing that sets this annual event apart is its brevity. Rather than being on display for a month, as is traditional for most galleries, “Splash” is a brisk affair. In fact, that’s one of the connotations of the title — a splash lasts but for a moment. The show opened for ArtHop and is only on view Saturday and Sunday. (Hours are noon-4 p.m.)
Though some artists participating in past “Splash” shows have taken the title more literally, including various interesting depictions of actual water, this year Raines assured a more eclectic reaction by asking artists to focus on presenting narrative through collage.
Working in a variety of media, the 16 artists in the show enthusiastically dove into the theme. Among the highlights:
- Terrance Reimer’s “(organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy).” In this spiffy (and, for those who know him, oh-so-Terrance) piece, pictured above, a dominant photograph of a kid in an oversize Superman costume transposed onto an image of a junked-up truck camper is bordered top and bottom with $100 bills. It’s a fascinating image, with the kid’s baggy costume reminding me of the weird, flappy skin that obese people get when they’ve slimmed way down. Perhaps a commentary on our own bloated lifestyle?
- Aurora Armijo’s’s “Kruller.” This mixed-media piece has a loopy glee. The collage depicts a line drawing of a couple in ecstasy surrounded by a blizzard of floating frosted (and, yes, sexually suggestive) donuts. Also integral to the piece: a collection of pudgy raindrops and, inexplicably, a parking claim-check. The impact is whimsical yet sweetly erotic. Sugar glazed, anyone?
- Donna Hopson’s “Frida’s Faces.” This mixed-media piece features a number of portraits of the iconic Frida Kahlo, along with her quotations, combined with a vivid purple quilt. I like the folkloric style with which Hopson has treated the photos.
- Anne Magana’s sublime “Runway,” a three-dimensional mixed-media piece that sort of bobs its way into your consciousness. Inspired by the loose, floating airiness of balloons, the piece is a commentary on the women’s fashion industry: three mask-like globes with a colorful Mardi Gras feel, complete with glassy eyes, affixed side-by-side on tall plastic tubing coming up from the base like pickets on a fence. Look closely at the headlike collages and you can pick out tiny headlines from “Seventeen” and other fashion magazines. Magana notes that many of the models she sees on fashion runways work to achieve vacant expressions, almost as if their heads are lighter than air.
One piece stood out just in terms of sheer timeliness: a triptych painting by Paulette Fleming depicting in the top panel a small African-American boy (the artist’s grandson) inserted in front of a house that turns out to be the now famous Cambridge residence of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. The middle image, the largest, of President Barack Obama in a sideways depiction of a photo of a small child touching his hair in wonder, weighs over a small strip that includes Gates’ mug shot that flashed around the world after his arrest for disturbing the peace. Talk about a quick turnaround. Fleming turned around a provocative painting and had it hanging in a show in less time that it takes a monthly magazine to lumber into existence. The provocative theme and impressive execution of this work turn out to be a show highlight, indeed.
The thing is — you have to move fast. It’s only up for two more days. If you’re a fan of contemporary visual art, you’ll want to catch “Splash” before it evaporates.