It is a unique skill to wield both the powers of humor and intelligence at the same time. But when it happens it is as if both aspects get enhanced, they compliment each other so well. In art this can be very difficult. It is a difficult balance I have only seen a few artists maintain. Jean Lowe is in that small handful of people. She is dealing with the dark side of consumerism in much of her work, but when you view her work, you’re not just staring while in deep contemplation, you also have a smirk sneaking out the side of your mouth.
Her latest exhibit entitled You’re Awesome at the McKenzie Fine Art gallery in New York is set up quite similarly to the dollar store in any given town across the states. The show is then filled with a plethora of Lowe’s imaginary products and made-up books, not to mention the “sale” signs to endorse the various products. Also, going with this theme a bit, were some paintings of what stores could look like in a not so pleasant, but funny in a sad way kind of future. Imagine if Costco was housed inside a royal palace. Perhaps these pieces are telling us that if we aren’t careful, Wal-Mart will not only put small businesses to pasture, but they will take over our grand ballrooms as well.
Visually, I find her work very playful. It is the kind of art that you want to touch and interact with. And even if the gallery folks won’t let me, I can still think about it, and I like that. And I get this sense of purposeful abstraction. It’s not like she is trying to trick people into thinking these products are real like with a Ron English piece (see artist of the day #51). She is creating a whole false environment in which the various parts compliment each other, not an individual piece to sit on its own. Her main theme seems to be commenting on consumerism, but especially through her made-up books, she pokes fun at everything from religion to corrupt police officers, to exercise fads. But then again I guess all of those fall under consumerism in one way or another. I mean are we really that far away from having a cookbook authored by the Devil?