RedneckPerspective: Culture time with Clyde

By on June 17, 2014


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The Planet recently began running a column called Culture Front. It is, as best as I can tell, about the arts, but it gets confusing as one would expect from a column that’s an “evolving inquiry into creativity” and will “delve into … creative cross-pollination.” Creative cross-pollination? Is that when bees do back flips between roses and daffodils?

I decided to write my own art review, which follows:

I recently attended Suzanne Forelocked’s gala art opening at Center for the Arts. I find Forelocked’s rigorously formal approach to the abstract inspiring, challenging in the sense that her neo-minimalism offers only a subliminal snapshot for which to base our assumptions, yet nurturing in that her pieces, absolute in their simplicity, offer a nuanced attempt to form order from chaos.

Forelocked explained to me that the focus of her latest collection is a conversation directed to the artistic subconscious and best described as a dissection of the human mind, one that challenges preconceived hierarchies and assumptions of the modern West. My favorite piece was entitled “Old and New,” which consisted of strands of horsehair meticulously glued to a ski pole. Though abstract and thus open to interpretation, the juxtaposition of horsehair, emblematical not only of the West’s past but the mythology associated with cowboys and the American West, against the ski pole, with its subtext of the new West and our culture of outdoor recreation, self-image, and instance gratification, was thought provoking to say the least. The imagery’s unassuming yet infinite connotations thrust the viewer forward into a progression of the simultaneous interplay between the quest for possible and the hunger for the ideal.

The horsehair twisted and curved seductively and one could almost see cowboys on a roundup, their moment in history passing, their culture detribalizing. Yet we are denied any illusion and, as the piece is stripped of obsequious aspects, we are forced to consider what of our past is veridical, what is merely confabulation, what we tergiversate and what will ever be a part of our collective phantasm. The ski pole begs the question of how we relate to our environment; our outdoor adrenalin-driven activities are often adventurous, even bold, yet they are contrived, merely interludes, a vain attempt to touch what was to those in the past a daily experience.

On a more subtle level, the excessively masculine phallic silhouette of the pole dominates the sculptures fundamental nature, while the horsehair, with its nuanced and under-toned emblematical implications, represents the domestication of the wild in a male-dominated society, one that crushes nature and the feminine. It forces us to ask serious questions of the far-too-often condescending male-dominated artistic elite and makes scathing but pertinent commentary to those socially conscious, sophisticated art connoisseurs who are concerned with the struggle for social justice, world peace, gender equality and an extensive selection of coffee-blended beverages. Forelocked’s depiction and delineation offers awe-inspiring introspective questions that gives one pause and adds to a vibrant art community.

About Clyde Thornhill

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