"Matt Weedman: Order No. 227" at Art Palace Displays a Great Work of Art

It's worth stopping by Art Palace just to check out an artwork called Vacuum Singer. It's a vintage Electrolux canister vacuum with its hose and steamer attachment propped up on a microphone stand like a cobra about to strike. Emanating from the canister is an eerie audio collage that mixes the sound of whooshing air with snippets of Doris Day's "They Say It's Wonderful" and Julie London's "Don't Worry About Me."

They say a great work of art contains at least seven meanings, and Vacuum Singer definitely meets the criteria.

There's a feeling of deep longing conjured, despite the images of 1950s advertising and smiling housewives that the piece immediately evokes. On the other hand, Day's refrain "it's wonderful" suggests a sedated, almost robotic, expression of happiness. The canister itself could be interpreted as a time capsule, or a ghostly chamber of lost souls. The piece could even be construed as a broad metaphor for American consumer culture, or a comment on the struggles of women in the mid-20th century. Like a siren, it seduces with promises of pleasure.

It's artist Matt Weedman's standout work in his very good exhibition "Order No. 227," which refers to the Joseph Stalin slogan "Not a step back."

The show also includes close-up photography of snap-off model soldiers, suggesting a kind of assembly-line perspective on American ideas of gratification and industry. The disembodied heads and limbs of the plastic model soldiers, even soldiers posed as dead bodies, comment on the ways in which we psychologically disengage with the very real specter of war and violence.

"Matt Weedman: Order No. 227" is on view through August 27 at Art Palace, 3913 Main, 281-501-2964, artpalacegallery.com.

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