Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Post Urban - Northern Mid-West: New Work by Rufus Snoddy
Now showing in the Mercato, adjacent to Gallery Fifty at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons through July 31, 2010.
Rufus Snoddy moved from Los Angeles to northern Michigan eight years ago, and this show is his response to that change. The artist describes his "head space" as The Wizard of Oz meets Alice in Wonderland while creating this new body of work. Sticks, twigs and accumulations of nature have replaced the motherboards, industrial remnants and collections of urban refuse. Elements of urban angst have slowly morphed into serene textures of a more natural environment. Though Snoddy is "not in Kansas," nor L.A. anymore, he has been seduced by the Midwestern spirit and is loving it.
Northern Michigan is a long way from Los Angeles, evidenced by the colorful reactions I often get when bringing up my city of origin. The most common reactions are those of overwhelming traffic, way too many cars and way too many people. Most L.A. natives have these sentiments also. Other reactions might include the typical urban issues of crime, vice and corruption. The clichéd “Land of fruits and nuts” has also been heard rolling off the lips of some. All of these, clichés included, fueled my creative drive while growing up and living in el cuidad de Los Angeles. So, some may wonder what the affects of relocating to Northern Michigan are having on the creative inspiration of a transplanted west coast visual artist. I am one of those.
Having worked and lived here for eight years, a budding Michiganian, this is the first work I have done from the perspective of a genuine hybrid. As with Los Angeles, my day to day living environment has had much influence on my sensibilities and direction. The Wizard of Oz meets Alice in Wonderland is somewhat descriptive of the head space I have been in for the past two years while creating most of this work. Trying to find place and direction as an African American male, after following a now ex-wife back to her home, was a bit like Alice following the white rabbit with the watch.
Living on the northern bays of Lake Michigan is often dreamlike in its beauty and charm. It's also simultaneously confusing in its provincial seasonal rituals, to one who grew up in a place of constant seventy degree weather. The seemingly slavish-like devotion to hunting and fishing seasons is at odds with my city-dwelling sensibilities. Worlds of gang culture, movers and shakers and the commonplace nattily attired gives way to a world of farmers, outdoor recreation and camo.
I have learned to embrace the grays and whites of winter and celebratory colors of fall. Northern cool blues and greens replace the western warmth of reds, ochres and browns. The melted snow and other of Mother Nature's liquids are absorbed by the soil and our souls. Spring blossoms, and preps for harvest fill our world. They are slowly replacing the Pacific Coast's Urban-Chic yields of asphalt, vanity and beaches. Sticks, twigs and accumulations of nature replace the motherboards, industrial remnants and collections of urban refuse. Symbolic textures of urban angst are slowly morphing into the serene textures of a more natural environment.
The political climate is the one constant. Dogma tends to be more conservative in these parts than the west coast. But the “Mickey Rats” are found on the “yellow brick road” as they are found in the “Hills of Beverly”, just not as often. It is becoming commonplace for me to feel like Alice, swimming in a pool of my own tears and offending those who are swimming with me by talking about the things I love.
Though “I am not in Kansas” nor L.A., I am being seduced by the Midwestern spirit and loving it.