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Emerging artists converge for a group show at Mainsite that arrives with much imagination, but no true theme



Gloss and Grime
through Dec. 4
Mainsite Contemporary Art
122 E. Main, Norman

Getting a read on what Mainsite Contemporary Art's "Gloss and Grime" group show is all about is not easy. Even David Crismon, who helped organize it, called the exhibition a "jambalaya" of artwork, but that's exactly what he wanted: talented artists producing new work with little regard for a unifying theme.

"This is a chance to introduce a new series or body of work," Crismon said. "It isn't artists with a bunch of work that has been recycled or the art community has seen in a previous show. The artists are doing new work for this show, but aren't tied down by a theme."

Participants were handpicked, and while discussing a possible direction for the show, the name "Gloss and Grime" emerged.

"For some reason, everyone at that point in time was working toward something that dealt with black and white," Crismon said. "We decided to go with that as a type of thread to start with, but not necessarily meaning you couldn't use color."

Crismon worked with Dan Heidebrecht and Debra Di Blasi, the only two out-of-state artists, for an installation piece with a Cold War theme, featuring music and official documents released through the Freedom of Information Act.

Jerrod Smith had a different take on the "Gloss and Grime" idea, creating a series of paintings utilizing desaturated colors and elaborate frames.

"My ideas were to use a very literal gloss in the frames with nice gloss finishes," Smith said. "The grime for me would be talking more about humanity, nature and how that comes together to be the grime of the world we live in."

In two of his pieces, Smith painted the heads of a pit bull and a barn owl on the bodies of Victorian-dressed figures. Owls are often shot as pests at his grandfather's farm, while the canine is based on his own dog, which he found wandering the Plaza District streets.

"It is trying to give class to something that is often undermined ... people who do have worth if we just took a moment to understand them," he said. "It has more to do with social justice than just how we treat pit bulls and barn owls."

Smith's largest work in the show is a self-portrait referencing the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. A bison head is painted on the male body, representing what Smith called the second fall of man, when white settlers destroyed the food source of American Indian tribes.

"As humans, we screw up all the time," he said. "I'm trying to say, 'I'm right there with everyone, trying to live and be human.'" "?Charles Martin

David Crismon's "Superbomb"


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