The Useful and the Decorative
July 14 - September 2, 2017
Featuring work by:
Don Edler, Ryan Fenchel, Gabrielle Garland, Alexandra Hedison, Garry Knox Bennett, Myrton Purkiss and John Zane Zappas
The Landing is proud to present The Useful and the Decorative, a group exhibition of art thinking about design. The show is an ode to the Landing’s beginning on the literal landing of owner Gerard O’Brien’s decorative arts gallery, Reform. The Landing originally presented fine art surrounded by its decorative cousins, handmade furniture and ceramics. This exhibition will show works by artists who are themselves thinking about the relationship between the two categories.
Fine art does not need to be functional to be useful to us. Its utility is not as palpable as, let’s say, the functionality of a shelf, desk or table. But the ideas it contains, and what it makes us feel, has a utility in our lives. What happens when art—which is, in relationship to design, intentionally non-functional—begins to reference the everyday and utilitarian? What happens when an artist’s impractical eye is turned on a designer’s work? When the familiar is viewed through an investigative lens, the resulting work makes the commonplace appear new.
In The Useful and the Decorative, Don Edler will present tablets that appear ancient reimagined as chairs and chaise lounges. His “Anthropocentric Tablet” acts like a catalogue of things about to be obsolete, varying in their familiarity. In his work, time is compressed, conflating the historic and very recent.
Ryan Fenchel’s paintings depict vessels—universal, utilitarian objects used by every ancient culture. His work is rendered in unusual and sparse layering of oil stick.
Gabrielle Garland’s paintings of domestic interiors observe the designed objects we live
with through our own imprecise experiential lens, rendering them surreal and imbuing them with pathos.
Alexandra Hedison documents domestic objects in a kind of limbo; though built for use, they’re draped, stored or preserved. Displaced from the warmth of a home, the objects act as an example of how things become embedded with emotion and meaning.
Garry Knox Bennett’s intricate objects take a surreal and innovative approach that subverts expectations one might have of a utilitarian object. Every joint and length of material on the desks or chairs is highly considered. His assemblages of an Eames chair take a more conceptual painterly bent, rendering the shadows of the famous forms.
Myrton Purkiss’ handmade tableware from 1948 defies the idea that useful objects should be made in multiple. Each plate is hand-painted in an undulating pattern, foreshadowing the investigations of Op Art.
John Zane Zappas’ hooks have labored surfaces that stand in contrast to their user-friendly form; their varying shapes are the result of a sculptor’s investigation into a deceivingly simple formal question.