Last night I happened to be passing through the community of Bridgeland. As I was going my way, I passed the Bridgeland Grocery and saw the sign affixed to the side of their building which read “shocking and scandalous images. See inside for details.”
I then remembered that a few weeks (maybe a month) ago there was a story in Fast Forward that talked about the Tiny Gallery. It is a stand-alone art space that occupies the small courtyard beside the store.
You can see the “gallery” in the picture above. It is the tall wooden structure to the left of the sign. The small exhibition space is inside the Plexiglas box at eye level.
It is a great concept. Bring art to the average person, in surprising, but accessible places or spaces.
The gallery is viewable 24 hours a day.
I stopped to take a look at the new show. This is the third show for the Tiny Gallery. Each of the three shows the gallery has hosted, featured a different member of the three-member (and briefly for about a year or two, a four-member) artist collective, Bee Kingdom. This time the artist featured is Philip Bandura.
This show is somewhat timely.
During the past few months there has been much press dedicated to the Sochi Olympics and LGBT issues in Russia. Much of the timeliness of this controversy has already worn off, as the 2014 Winter Olympics has ended.
In this context, the work of Philip Bandura continues that discussion in this small exhibition.
Freedomco is a vehicle that Philip Bandura has used over the past few years in his own work. Briefly Freedomco often deals with LGBT issues in an art context.
The artist has stated the following about the Freedomco body of work, and then goes on to talk specifically about this work Gay be Gone Russian Gold:
Freedomco is a fictitious company that I created to parody promotions of “freedom” and “security” in a variety of ways. As such, the work often deals with how I interpret my experiences as a gay man in contemporary western culture. It is my intention that these works are seen as humorous and that humor will act as a vehicle to address the seriousness of the underlying content. The fundamental goal is to facilitate dialog between queer and straight communities alike.
“Gay be Gone Russian Gold” was created in response to the recent anti-gay laws in Russia. The tonic would fulfil the dream of the Russian government of “curing” being gay. It is one of a number of tonics Freedomco makes, and the second in the Gay be Gone series.
These works often contain an installation-based product (for lack of a better word) and is often conceptually-based. Periodically there is a performative element relating to the work. Whether that is necessary can be debated, but it does serve to give context, especially for those who are not immersed in the art community who attend the show. So I get it.
In a previous exhibition that I attended a couple years ago Philip exhibited a large work that he created entitled A Better Way to Bomb, 2011. I had a photo of it on a memory card inserted into a camera that someone felt that they needed more than I. As a result I have to use a photo from the Bee Kingdom.
It was quite an interesting piece and it is part of the roots where this work in the Tiny Gallery comes from. You can see more from Freedomco here. The piece above played off a proposed harebrained idea by the US Military to create a “gay bomb.” It is actually rather humorous. If one feels inclined, you can read more about this project here.
This piece in the Tiny Gallery continues that discussion. Here bottles are used. I would assume that they potentially could be Russian liqueur or vodka bottles. This small venue is a fantastic place to exhibit this work as it does create an interesting dialogue with average people on the street.
The space lends itself well to small sculptural work and glass. I would assume with the hot afternoon sun during the summer, the temperature inside the Plexiglas box could probably get quite high. As a result it would not be conducive to works on paper, encaustic or those works containing fugitive colours and paints.
It is nice to see these type of alternative spaces being used for art exhibitions. I also applaud the people behind Tiny Gallery for being willing to engage in potentially challenging subject matter.