Sex, drugs, alcohol, homicide and political corruption merge with art at "Artzilla" 

Sex, Drugs and Art

The "Jerry Springer show" aside, when is the last time you encountered sex, drugs, alcohol, homicide and political corruption all on a Friday afternoon, all in one room, all for free and all legitimized under the guise of art? Welcome to "Artzilla" — Richmond's answer to Charles Saatchi's "Sensation" in Brooklyn. There aren't any chopped up sharks or elephant dung per se (not that I was aware of at least), but there are less-than-iconic depictions of the Madonna and maybe even enough smut to make Rudy Guiliani a little uneasy. Punchline magazine and Artspace have collaborated to bring you the show, "Artzilla!…this time it's personal."

Upon entering Artspace, one is met by Peter Paul Rubens' "The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus" — or rather that famous Baroque painting as re-interpreted by local artist/musician/muralist Ed Trask. The comic and cover gallery displays a number of the original magazine covers and comic strips. As anyone who has perused these "funnies" can attest, they often anything but. Series like "This Modern World" and "Troubletown," for example, sardonically illustrate and comment on such postmodern phenomena as nouveau riche day traders, drunks on Main Street and the nihilistic tendencies of Generation X. Eying the original artwork of these cartoons does make more apparent the clever, creative and graphically talented skills of the artists — skills that the comic strip format can deceptively belie.

The main gallery, mezzanine and stairs further unfold the eclectic world of Richmond's art scene. The hyperrealism evident in Jamie Pocklington's "Baby Makes Three" or Jack Lawrence's "An Interior (Boy Making a Decision)" demonstrates the technical virtuosity of these painters. A smattering of collage and mixed media-based works also are on display — Nikki Price's postcards of photos and cartoons hanging like laundry from a clothesline or Mike Taylor's "Viking" helmet composed of leather, shells, keys, dice and plastic fetuses, for example.

As expected, some works are stronger than others, but somehow, in the context of a good cause (proceeds from the sale of several works go to the Freedom House), the inconsistencies are basically irrelevant. "Artzilla" runs through Nov.


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