LOVE,LUST,FOOD (and a couple of Underwear Hats)
Joe Wade Contemporary, July 19th-25th, 2002

Santa Fe artist Stacy Brown presents a group of work that leaves giddiness in its wake.
The works in oil and in drypoint, are mostly intimate in scale and instigate a patient viewing. Subjects are chosen somewhat arbitrarily from the artist’s immediate circle of family and friends. Mainly she’ll start off painting their portraits from life or from photos and she will render them in a classical style of portraiture originating from the classical era of European painting. From there she’ll inject important quirky details-mainly of dress- that give us a great array of sight gags. Most recurrent are depictions of solemn-looking young men and women who wear carefully arranged crowns or hats of none other than men’s white jockey shorts. Behind the figures, on [a vague wall-like space are scratchy or graffiti-like diagrams of either hieratic symbols or schematic or carefully spontaneous renditions of childlike faces, toys or animals. The latter may or may not hold an obvious relationship to the figure(s)in the foreground. In spite of the patiently, lovingly painted fleshtones & facial correctness of the human subjects, the overall effect is comedic and above all, it is playful. After our initial sense of bafflement facing these ridiculous ‘realistic’ setups comes the question of why the artist chooses to present this human or inanimate toylike landscape in this way. The sensual delight of looking at these paintings is pretty great, so that in itself dispells the need to decisively answer the latter question. What comes from the work, after some viewing, is the sense that a playful approach and a sense of the absurd can be made to live happily with an academic approach. Two of the whackiest and most tightly painted panels are also some of the most powerful in their combination of the comedic and academic. The 11-inch square ‘Anniversary Peace’, in particular the one with the two Walmart, yellow Smiley Faces, painted as if they were the most beautiful of pears, sitting in a still life setup next to a pair of false teeth, set against one of those Zurbarån-like sepia-black glazed backgrounds (with the teeth’s windup key scratched into the gesso underneath), is a tour-de-force of great proportions, showing us that if you paint the unimportant in a beautiful way, you can elevate and empower the most trivial or laughable subject. This is the kind of magic that Brown works and the results are vivid and truly memorable. Look forward to this work’s international recognition!

Frank Ettenberg
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