Undoubtedly, making work under the neon sun for a couple of decades results in images fermented with light, color and maybe a little Tequila. Suspicious Evidence at RTZvegas Gallery offers us the opportunity to check out long-time Las Vegas artists Ginger Bruner and Anthony Bondi, and see for ourselves two artists under the long-term influence of Las Vegas.
Bondi begins playfully with a jungle lattice of lizards, snakes and fake grass taking up a gallery window, save for two holes left for viewers to peek through, making them part of the three-dimensional collage. Fun and very kitsch. But when it comes to the lizards in the photographs, things start to fall apart. Bondi departs from the dynamic collage style he is well known for and opts instead for photographic still lifes with the lizards, plastic foozeballs, pinwheels, figures and an assortment of other objects. Several of the small, cramped images are packed with the plastic snakes and lizards surrounding or hanging in nets in front of partially nude women in trashy lingerie, or simply proliferating across surfaces on their own in lackluster compositions. Attempts to construct narratives are interrupted by titles with odd scientific agendas, such as “The Depletion of Miss Ozone” or “Bio-Metric Base Point.”
Taking a break from the reptiles, he constructed sets with wire and bits of wood strung up like tribal-esque decorations. Examining the image “Wide Area Persistent Surveillance,” consisting of a woman peeking through a fence of wood pieces and wire, we discover disappointing heavy pixelation. There are glimmers of potential found in images like “Synthetic Credit,” displaying the bright, floating blooms of fluffy bath sponges like so many synthetic water lilies in chlorine swimming pool blue. The fake opulence of ripe clusters of floating plastic grapes in “The Far South Seas” also grabs some attention. These strange, plastic, color-rich images thrust toward a possible artificial Neo-Impressionism that would fit well within the façade of Las Vegas, but they suffer severely from being cropped and crunched into a small photo format.
Sometimes less is more, and Bruner’s work give us fewer images, but they’re all robustly scaled up into large formats thick with juice and color. Bruner’s work has been in a love affair with Las Vegas for years, as she goes about capturing the blinking cocktail signs and blazing sunsets blanketing The Strip; they’re well-composed images and all quintessential Las Vegas. However, her new series of images, while still very Vegas, do something quite different from her usual. She has loosened her grip, let go of crisp bulbs and bright alphabets of recognizability and simply let Vegas wash into her lens. The result are liquid neon impressions of Las Vegas. Red, yellow and electric blue pour down the surface of “Columns” like a wet Vegas dream. Artificial buffet lighting and lambent brass railings smolder in “Untitled 1” like a beatific diner sunset. The sun rises in “Untitled 2,” an artificial dawn rising over the vodka-cigarette residued landscape of a bar table. Hot pink and red pulses upon the glowing necks of liqueur bottles stacking bar shelves in the image “Louis.” Peeling back the layers, Bruner succeeds in uncovering the slick pulpy essence of Vegas.
SUSPICIOUS EVIDENCE, Anthony Bondi and Ginger Bruner, RTZvegas 1017 S. First Street Suite 195 www.rtzvegas.com