One of the first places I used to show in the 1990’s was Acme Art Company near Fourth and High next to the Caravan Bar. It was the early days of the Short North and Acme was full of angry young men, late stage psychedelia, edgy “happenings” and fragile mental states. It seemed a slightly dangerous place to me at the time, a tangle of rebellion, sexuality and provocation. It couldn’t last forever but it was fun while it lasted. A reunion show was held last weekend at the Vanderelli Room and I was a part of it.
AJ Vanderelli in Red Boots
AJ Vanderelli hosted the event at her Franklinton gallery. There are a lot of similarities between the old Short North and Franklinton and I foresee a similar fate for the near Westside. An explosion of condos and mixed-use-what-nots is currently rolling through the area but right now it’s occupying that sweet spot between I’m-afraid-I’m-gonna-get-shot and hand-me-my-latte. Galleries are as ephemeral as cherry blossoms.
- “Empty Bowl” by Lynda McClanahan
Former Acme members were asked to submit two old works and two new. Most of my stuff from the ’90’s is long gone, but I have plenty of edgier pieces which are hard to show elsewhere. It was nice to see “Empty Bowl” on a wall again.
Charles Wince Piece
It was a great show and I enjoyed the art a lot more than I usually do. There were no sterile philosophical pieces or mathematical color tables to be seen but there was plenty of neo-psychedelia like this piece by Charles Wince.
Acme’s patron saint, the artist known as “Goblinhood,” died a few years ago but was well represented. I miss his muscular, human-scale, fever-dream art. So much of what I see today seems bloodless by comparison, favoring a machine-like purity which leaves the personal behind. Goblinhood was a character and always worked from the center of a frankly confused mind, but there was so much honesty in him, it made you want to cry.
The Vanderelli Room always provides plenty of seating, which creates a community feel and fosters conversation. You wouldn’t know it from this photo though. Unfortunately, the insidious “palm masters” were not checked at the door.
People dressed up for the event, which I appreciated. We were all pretty young during our Acme days and sex was always in the air. These boots are right in line with the spirit of the old days.
There were also lots of not-so-sexy get ups which I greatly admired. Way to go, Fez-man!
Eccentric music punctuated the night. First there was a hillbilly punk guy in overalls who yelled a lot. Then there was this couple who did a digital mash up act. Two folks from the room were asked to come forward and spin the wheels and the guy would somehow mash together the two bands indicated. It was Michael Jackson meets ELO. I don’t know how they did it but the results were delightfully goofy. The lady in the frilly undies danced the whole time. Joel and I did a bit of dancing too.
There were lots of videos and still shots from the old days. Acme used to hold some pretty strange events in the basement. I was too shy to attend most of them but, looking back, I wish I’d been a bit bolder. The event above looks like it must have been interesting.
It was instructive to revisit Acme’s art at this remove of time. The political was everywhere and much of the work seemed highly influenced by graffiti and street art. The work held up well. It was a sentimental night of good-humored mayhem and I was glad to be a part of it.