Dream world meets digital realm in 934 Gallery duo show
“Synthetic Reveries,” a duo show featuring artists Andy Meyer and Lucie Shearer, begins before you even set foot inside 934 Gallery.
The north wall outside of the building in Milo-Grogan features a large-scale, collaborative mural, half painted by Shearer (a moody, reclining, blue-hued figure) and half by Meyer (a surreal, imaginative landscape). Visitors purposely enter where these two worlds meet, at a door that opens right where the skull of Shearer’s figure spills open, giving way to Meyer’s colorful contribution. It’s just one in a handful of Easter eggs designed to reward perceptive attendees, or, in the case of a heart painted on the wall behind one of Shearer’s works, nobody outside of the artists themselves.
“When this one comes down,” Shearer said, removing one of her paintings from the wall to reveal a hidden heart below, “it’ll be like, ‘I love you!’ So no one will even know about it, but Easter eggs are one of my favorite things.”
These sometimes-buried surprises add further dimension to “Synthetic Reveries,” as if even the building itself is in conversation with the artwork. Such is the case with the carpet that “drips” out from Meyer’s installation (which was still very much a work-in-progress on a recent Saturday morning) or the walls of the gallery itself, some of which are spray-painted in galactic swirls of color, like extensions of the canvases hung upon them.
Prior to being paired for this show, which was initially scheduled for October 2018 and then pushed back a season, Shearer and Meyer had only passing knowledge of one another. (The gallery paired the two because they share a color palette, as well as some loose thematic threads.)
“Some of the visual language we use is similar,” Shearer said. “We use a lot of figures and portraits and talk a lot about the relationships between people.”
But while Shearer’s conversations tend to be internally driven, resulting in arresting, soft-glow portraits that wrestle with ethereal concepts like human connection, Meyer’s works more often deal with the ways in which technology impacts human relationships. “My whole shtick is how we succumb to this information age,” Meyer said, “and how we manufacture and curate our digital identities.”
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One piece Meyer is working on for the show features repeated desktop icons borrowed from early Macintosh OS systems, stucco-like textures and muted, coral-esque patterns that appear to be natural but are actually digitally generated. “I discovered this process in Photoshop where, if you give Photoshop some input points and create an action, it’ll create this algorithmic, blob-like texture,” Meyer said. “I thought there was a really interesting metaphor in how technology mimics nature, and in how you can get such a natural looking coral texture from something machine-made. … A part of my process has been asking, ‘How can I emulate texture?’ The world of the internet is flat — flat screens and pixels — and I wanted to explore more mixed media instead of just traditional screen printing.”
While prepping for the show’s original 2018 date, Shearer initially wanted to do “everything,” as she explained it. “I wanted to touch every type of material and have tons of work on the wall,” she said. With extra time, though, she decided to pare back, expounding her energy on a handful of more carefully curated pieces, including digital works and more traditional oil paintings.
Meyer, in contrast, moved on from the idea of curating a “subtle, minimal show,” expanding his vision to include video installations and heavily doctored screen prints. “It was like, ‘Oh, man. I have to try everything now,’” he said, and laughed.
As a result, less than two weeks from opening, Meyer’s half of the exhibit space was slightly more unkempt than Shearer’s tidy room, filled with boxes, televisions, Roman columns, drop cloths and in-progress canvases.
“I was talking to Lucie about this, and the deadline of the show is literally when I’ll be like, ‘OK, the pieces are done,’” Meyer said. “If I have a screen print, everything is premeditated and ready to go. But for something like this, where I’ve never been a painter, and I’ve never been a mixed-media artist, it’s like, ‘Well, I could probably keep going, but I guess time is up, so I should stop now.’”
Opening reception 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6
934 Cleveland Ave., Milo-Grogan