Lonely are the Brave

Release Date: 2009-07-01

No surprise that Lonely Are the Brave, Blue Star’s CAM entry, is as rich and densely layered as baklava: It’s curated by Sala Diaz’s Hills Snyder, who loves nothing more than an inextricably entwined art and philosophical nest embedded with crunchy nuggets. An extensive preview Saturday, while the artists finalized their installations, just made us drool. The inspiration for the exhibit is the 1962 film of the same name, based in turn on Edward Abbey’s 1956 contemporary novel The Brave Cowboy, which tells the tale of a man who goes to combative lengths to break into prison to save his friend, only to have his pal reject immediate freedom for longterm stability. The titular character busts back out, and becomes a hunted fugitive.

Snyder has added curatorial “touches” to bridge the “abyss” between the four artists’ responses to this theme, including a small living-room nook that’s a Westernized version of the vanitas painting tradition, where you can watch Lonely Are the Brave (with Spanish subtitles) and search for the clues and visual references he’s stocked it with — many of them alluding to the artists and their work. (No spoilers here; watch for a review later this month.)

Justin Boyd likes the challenge of meeting a curator’s idea head on, so he’s building a musical fence, a tribute to the roots of the blues slide guitar; he’ll play it in front of a larger-than-life projection on July 2 and 3 to accompany a climactic scene from the film, projected larger-than-life behind him.

Jesse Amado’s wall-size installation provides a backdrop for the show, says Snyder — the peaks, valleys, and mesas Amado’s created with multiple colors of fringe echoing the film’s mountainous sets. For his part, Amado says he’s channeling the Abstract Expressionists, and one of the cool things about this show is the way these two separate means meet: Snyder’s frame reminding us that the energy and freedom captured on canvas by the movement’s Stateside practitioners was inspired by and drew on the American mythos of self-expression and limitless potential.

Chris Sauter has reinstalled one of his masterworks to date: an homage to his childhood bedroom, which you can peer at through holes where drywall circles were removed to create a telescope. He’s also carved a hand plow out of the gallery wall (example above), and as Snyder points out, the corner that’s flanked by the excised drywall is another plow, pushing up furls of empty space. You might think of it as a metaphor for the development that consumes an average of two U.S. farm acres per minute.

Fairy-tale deconstructor Kelly O’Connor has taken over the Project Room to create a Wonderland in reverse, where the viewer peers out through the magic mirror while the kingdom clambers back in. When I saw it, it was shaping up to be her most overt suggestion yet to get back in touch with reality.

It’s just kismet that this very American show opens Independence Day weekend, says Snyder, but you can believe he’s making the most of it.

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