"Unit" at Gallery Sonja Roesch: For the Love of Prints, Multiples and Editions of All Stripes
"Cope, Not Hope" by Mark Ponder
Online shop UNIT is all about making limited edition works accessible to art lovers. There's a range of prices and sizes to choose from, and the pieces come framed and ready to hang with the hanging hardware included so you can do it yourself. It's an admirable mission, but how's the art?
Well, right now, you can see more than 30 prints and editions from the shop in person in a new show at Gallery Sonja Roesch. It's a fitting location -- UNIT is run by Houston artist Ariane Roesch, whose mother, Sonja, founded the gallery. It's the first of an annual summer show featuring works available on the site, which include handmade limited edition prints, products and publications.
"Stuffed" by Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand
To say there's something for everyone seems a bit trite -- and, logistically, impossible, as these are limited edition prints, after all. But the range of materials, styles, subject matter and overall approaches is impressive. A quick run of the place introduces you to Cody Ledvina's "Crawdad Ledvina EXPERIENCE," a display of DVD cases that tell a story through the covers (the video itself will be screened at the end of the exhibition's run); Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's "Stuffed," a pillow case printed with the photograph of an intimidating ball of possessions; and Myke Venable's "12 tins," a line of black diamond-shaped tins descending from the ceiling, attached to the wall via magnets.
There are plenty of memorable prints, too, with distinct drawing styles that make it a visually engaging and entertaining show. There are too many good ones to list, but some standouts include Gissette Padilla's "Malicious Compliance," a "passive aggressive" lithography inspired by comic book drawings; Mark Ponder's "Cope, Not Hope" series -- ink drawings featuring overused, positive words like "wonderful" and "great" in a childlike bubble font surrounded by balloons and hearts, the dead, deflated balloons suggesting something darker; and Kim Huynh's "Keystone Project Alberta," a photo-intaglio that has the word "pipeline" hole-punched into the print, as if literally poking holes in the Alberta-Nebraska pipeline project. Lewis Mauk also is a prominent artist in the gallery, with works from a recent series that speaks to his hoarding tendencies, including three photo-lithographs of decades-old marijuana baggies, ready to pop, and two Warhol-esque silk-screens of larger-than-life, used toothbrushes.
Besides being prints, editions or multiples of something, many of the works compiled by UNIT have a sense of experimentation and playfulness about them, whether it's in their use of color, materials or process, that unites them in the show. Even the installation is playful, with pieces found high up near the ceiling or casually across two chairs. There's even a section of the gallery's wall devoted to UNIT's own tool kit, its contents laid out on display as if a work of art itself.
"UNIT" at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline, runs now through August 25. For more information, call 713-659-5424 or visit www.gallerysonjaroesch.com.
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