Surreal exhibit, party experience best in person

Artwork can be like people at times.

Think about it.

Likes and dislikes might tell a little bit about a friend on Facebook, but they can’t compare to the sound of a voice. Or even a smile.

So, it’s only understandable that Jason Andreasen was wowed when “Shadsy’s Last Go Round” was lifted out of its crate.

Andreasen is director of Baton Rouge Gallery Center for Contemporary Art, which is hosting Surreal Salon 5. “Shadsy’s Last Go Round” is a ceramic sculpture by Hollie Dilley of McKinleyville, Calif., one of 54 pieces in the show.

The exhibit opened on Jan. 2, and runs through Thursday, Jan. 31, and features a juried collection of pop-surrealist and lowbrow art by artists from 18 states.

“This is an art movement that you don’t necessarily see around here,” Andreasen said.

Well, with the exception of the LSU Student Union Gallery’s show Poison for the Impressionable (Conceptual Realism): A Robert Williams Documentary Exhibition last November and December. Williams is known as the father of lowbrow artwork and founder of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, which focuses on the genre.

The piece winning “Best of Show” in the 2013 exhibit will receive a full-page spread in the April 2013 edition of Juxtapoz.

“And what we’re hoping is that people who went to the Robert Williams exhibit at the Union Gallery will want to look into this art movement,” Andreasen said.

“We’re hoping that they’ll look into it and find the next chapter here.”

And there’s plenty to discover here.

But descriptive words are the same as likes and dislikes on Facebook. Words will provide information about a piece, but seeing it in person offers a viewer a chance to experience it.

And that experience becomes his own.

This is what happened when Dilley’s sculpture was removed from its crate.

“I had looked at the digital images of the sculpture, and I knew its dimensions,” Andreasen said.

“But I was surprised when I saw it. That was one of those moments like unwrapping a gift at Christmas.”

The sculpture is a carousel topped by a ceramic sculpture of a goose’s head, and eggs are in place of horses.

“When you see it in person, it takes on a whole new life,” Andreasen said.

As does the painting, “Queen of Vision” by Tempe, Ariz., artist Dino Reynolds.

The piece features a nude woman posing for her painter, who has filled her head with large eyeballs. And as bizarre as this may seem, the eyeballs aren’t what attract the viewer’s gaze.

It’s the silver veil hanging from her shoulder.

“You can’t stop looking at it,” Andreasen said. “The color is brilliant, and you just stand there wondering how the artist did that.”

Those are just two surprises to be discovered in this show of the surreal, which was juried by California-based artist N.C. Winters.

-Winters was given the task of choosing the 54 pieces from more than 300 submitted works.

“There were no titles or artists’ names on the entries that we gave him,” Andreasen said. “He was choosing only from the artwork.”

This resulted in work by five Baton Rouge artists, two New Orleans artists and one Bossier City artist chosen for the show.

“So, we have a fair amount of Louisiana artists in the show, and it shows the quality of work being produced by artists in our state,” Andreasen said.

Winters, meanwhile, will be the featured speaker at the gallery’s ARTiculate program at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. The talk will follow the fifth annual Surreal Salon Soiree from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.

The soiree is the gallery’s annual party coinciding with the exhibit, allowing party-goers to dress in costume, thereby creating a living surreal exhibit among the surreal artwork. Of course, this is best experienced in person, too.

For words and pictures don’t do justice to experience.

Especially when the experience is surreal.