Scott and Jeff Kraynak
Two bison take aim at herds of humans from train windows while Manatee’s on jet skis cruise around mangled human corpses. Men in suits peer out from between the bars of circus cages. On display at Blackbird Studios is the poetry and art of the new book Animal Crackers by Cleveland brothers Scott and Jeff Kraynak. The new book raises awareness on issues of animal cruelty and endangerment by engaging in thought-provoking and humorous ironic role reversal of humans and animals.
“I got the idea for it after driving through Yellowstone and seeing these majestic creatures, and thinking about how close they were to going extinct simply due to human savagery and greed,” says Scott Kraynak. “When my parents and brother were visiting me out West, Jeff and I started talking about this piece in the backseat of the car, and I made up this stupid rhyme something like ‘What if it were bison riding in the trains, leaning out the window and blowing out OUR brains!’ I began laughing hysterically with tears come down my cheeks while the rest of my family looked at me like ‘where in the hell did we find this guy?!’ Screenwriter and poet, Jeff began to write his own ideas creating something beautiful from my dumb little rhyme and the book was born!”
Jeff Kraynak: “Scott mentioned how he wanted this book to be sort of an adult Dr. Seuss. I then took that fairly literally and wrote it in anapestic tetrameter, which is the comic verse employed by Dr. Seuss. I wanted the writing to not only be entertaining but educational as well. So I would do my own research into the animals we were depicting and find relevant details about how they were killed, why, or even just little tidbits about their natural behavior.”
Jeff Kraynak: “We never wanted or tried to be subtle with the book’s message. It was always meant to raise an eyebrow or two, to shock people with a tables-turned reality of what we’re doing to nature. And that’s why we decided to self-publish. Although we are backed by an amazing distributor, Last Gasp Books, we didn’t want a publisher telling us to tone it down or edit it in any way. We wanted to make what we wanted to make, and we did. And the right people, Last Gasp included, have and will see and appreciate that and support it.”
Through November. Blackbird Studios 1551 S. Commerce St. www.blackbirdstudioslv.com
Exploring a blend of wasteland mixed with oasis artist Jevijoe Vitug creates a landscape of contradictions populated with palm trees and cheap Vegas souvenirs, lost Asian temples and sex toy architecture.
Vitug: “My works have a lot of conflicting influences, from images of Las Vegas as a modern day sin city to images of Asian landscape and waterfall paintings, but I’m really interested on resolving them into one unified pictorial scene to create a new environment, a new identity.
“If you see the painting, the visual elements are based from Las Vegas architecture (Eiffel Tower, Caesars Palace, etc.) and sex toys like vibrators and dildos - my idea of sin city through ‘sexualizing the Las Vegas architecture’ - but it could also referred to the collapse of empires in the West or human civilization in general and environmental change- tsunamis and earthquakes in Asia for instance.”
Oct. 18 - Dec. 7, 5th Wall Gallery, 520 Fremont St. (inside Emergency Arts), www.facebook.com/5thwall.
Recent work with jugs and other shapes
Looking like a mixture of ceramic, mythology and Tim Burton creatures, South Carolina ceramicist Joel Patton crafts humanized jugs with unusual features such as a gold spigot mouth, a two-faced horned ogre glazed with patina and nails springing forth from eye sockets. A leering brown jug-face smiles at visitors displaying the surprising contents of a pastoral porcelain figure of a young boy casually reclining in it’s mouth.
Patton: “I like that it looks like the little guy is sort of carelessly kicking his way out of the big guy. A customer of mine sent me the ceramic figure that’s in the mouth, so that I could do something along these lines with it.
“While I was sculpting this piece, my son came out to play with clay. He was three years old at the time. He began to roll together pieces of white clay and red clay, and then he cut those pieces up and gave them to me. I decided to attach them to this jug. I sculpted the face, and wanted to do the eyes separately. The right eye is sculpted from white clay, which I added to the piece, and the left eye is sculpted from the red clay of the jug’s body.”
Through November. Clay Arts Vegas, 1511 S. Main St. www.clayartsvegas.com Face- jug making workshop on Nov. 2.
Over and Under
Already delightful, the visual pleasure found in artist Philip Denker’s work is further amplified by the discovery that the mesmerizing digital patterns and tapestries of 8-Bit noise which look computer generated are actually painstakingly handcrafted.
Denker: “This is the first series of work I’ve done using PVC plastic foam. Each piece is made from several hundred strips, stacked and glued, then cut into 3/8” strips revealing the profile of the stack. Each Piece contains 30-40 individual strips, echoing and mirroring each other creating an optical and complex field of digital patterns.
“‘Over and Under’ is one of the final pieces in the series. I wanted to create several layers of information. The complex blue image floats over the orange and white background creating a screen-like pattern. I created two different stacks of PVC patterns, one being half scale to the other. I aligned the strips to give a compression and expansion effect.”
Denker sontinued: “I continue to use the idea of ‘sensory overload’ as a platform for my practice. I consider my work a product of its environment. However, I’m not creating a narrative for the viewer. I want the work to be an introspective experience.”
Nov. 7-29, Trifecta Gallery, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #135, www.trifectagallery.com