Gallery Wolfy Part II has always dwelt in that place between visual arts and music. Now with Enjoy Your Life, they delve into works by the inimitable musician Jad Fair.
With his brother David in 1975, Fair founded Half Japanese, a punk band that pioneered the studied imprecision of low-fi. The band out-punked punk, embracing its unschooled technique while refusing to conform to its enraged ethos. Instead, HJ wrote earnest love songs and campfire horror stories set to music. Fair would go on to a solo career and collaborations with such talents as Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker and Sonic Youth's Steve Shelly and Thurston Moore.
Music is still part of Fair's life. But for the past 10 years, he has increasingly devoted his energies to visuals arts.
"Most people know me now from music, but that's starting to change; I'm getting more and more recognition for my artwork," Fair says.
Why the turn? Marriage has settled him down.
"I can make a pretty good living off music if I travel a lot," he says. "I still do some shows, but I prefer to stay at home."
Ironically, Fair's technique was born on the road. Reading in a moving car gave him headaches, and drawing straight lines was impossible. But Fair found he could wield scissors on construction paper with precision. The result was a series of black paper cutouts of images rendered with childlike — even totemic — simplicity.
Viewers find the same combination of whimsy and monstrosity in Fair's visual art that they discovered in his music. Recurring motifs include the Beatles, horses, birds, and gleeful monsters on a rampage. All works testify to a visionary spirit in touch with a brighter world. A woman and man sitting under a tree evokes Eden (pictured above). The Beatles embody youthful promise and inspiration. And the robots and mutants stomping tiny humans underfoot are having the time of their lives.
Despite the body count, Fair's work suggests nothing morbid. It's more like the fantasies of adventure, bigness, and freedom inspired by stories from Maurice Sendak to midnight monster flicks. Just as much as the prelapsarian Trees of Life, they are expressions of innocent joy.
More than 100 of Fair's works will be on display at Gallery Wolfy II through September 1. An opening reception is set for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, August 10. That will be followed at 10 p.m. by a live musical performance by the artist at Pat's in the Flats.
Gallery Wolfy II is at 2676 West 14th St. The opening reception is free. Tickets for the 10 p.m. performance are $10 at wolfypartii.blogspot.com.
Akron Art Museum (secondary feature)
Veiled Image. Self-taught photographer Robert Stivers uses his own body, those of his friends, natural scenes he comes across, and canonical images from art history to weave a narrative that is weighty but clouded like a dream. Some of his images are all the more haunting for their use of sepia tone and soft focus, which make them resemble images from the earliest days of photography. On view through January 20 of next year at One South High St., Akron. Call 330-376-9185 or go to akronartmuseum.org.
Brandt Gallery: Sirens and Other Wonders of the Sea. Meredith Hahn illuminates real, mythological, and purely imaginative maritime denizens. Delicate wiring paired with neon and metallic backgrounds create surprising visual experiences. An opening reception will be held Friday August 10 from 6 to 10 p.m. at 1028 Kenilworth Ave. Call 216-621-1610 or go to brandtgallery.org.
William Rupnik Gallery: Ruins, Relics, Revelations. Photographer Brandon P. Davis opens his first solo exhibition with this meditation on urban blight in the Rust Belt. Not just empty factories, but abandoned parks and empty classrooms are captured in full but fading color to humanize economic realities. An opening reception will be held Saturday August 11 from 7 to 10 p.m. Through August 31 at 1117 Euclid Ave. Call 216-533-5575 or go to 1117.wrgcleveland.com.
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