The Drawers - Mitchell Friedman   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Highly Recommended, Jan 11 - Feb 20, 2007

With such a young history, outside of the original native culture, pure American folk tales and mythological characters are sparse, but poignant - Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, Paul Revere, Uncle Sam and Aunt Jemima, to name a few. Born of the common folk, they were graphically realized in simple materials, wood carvings, woodblock prints, embroidery and simple multiple procedures. Reflected in the style that rose with The Ashcan School, the artists presented a rakishly thin, almost caricatured rendition of its citizenry and the animals, usually domestic, followed suit. Partially due to visible poverty simply being translated into visual formats, the style had an apocalyptic edge, as if the inhabitants of this world of physical deprivation and difficulties were poised on the edge of death. So it is in the work of Mitchell Friedman. The dark environs, countrified and deserted where boney horses wander and the specter of a hanged man delivers a bleak message of human recrimination, a Blake-like handling is dramatically delivered.

The light is fractured as if splintered by lightening. It is the world of witches and rumor mongering and it is a pertinent parallel to the political climate that exists in America today. Although not entirely statement oriented there is a visible delight in the working of the medium, especially the excitement of chiaroscuro contrasts and vivid accents of lurid coloration - the hint of radiated waves emanating from far distant and ominous explosions is implied. Partially a by-product of the technique, the unflinching rawness of jagged lines and spiky extremeness is discomforting. Yet with the tragic grandeur of depressed conditions, also comes a flicker of positive recognition and hope.

Copyright 2007,  Headbones Gallery