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Gallery Hop: First Friday Art March 

Desotorow, Le Snoot, Ashmore all shine

Serious People Serious Show @ Desotorow Gallery

Serious work was on view at the Desotorow Gallery on Friday evening.

Well, not so much. A stop on the monthly First Friday Art March, the nonprofit gallery hosted works by the Serious People Studio, a trio of senior SCAD Illustration students.

Sirens of all that is silly, Shannon Wiskman, Janelle Fortes and Taylor Stone are the ladies behind "Serious People Serious Show," an exhibit of well-executed posters, prints, portraits and 3D illustrations.

Fine technique was, however, decidedly beside the point on that serious night. The focal point of the exhibit was a red metal bulletin board that compiled dozens of random sketches, notes and other fragments from the ladies' lives. Stone noted that the board was taken straight from their living room; it imbued the show with spontaneity, a sense of process and an organic tone.

"Wanting to show our artwork before graduating, we decided to put on this show," Stone continued. The three plan on opening a studio together after graduation, and the exhibit was an opportunity to see how their individual work gelled. Putting together the collaborative capstone project also offered local exposure and experience with the business of exhibition.

Serious People Studio's unambiguous irony expresses more than pre-graduation jitters about entering the worlds of art and commerce after their final quarter at SCAD. Their irony functions to critique the concepts of formality and finish, placing an emphasis alternatively on freedom, play and collaboration in the creative process.

To that end, the ladies were, according to Stone, "especially glad to be showing at Desotorow. Way back when we were planning this last November we knew we wanted to pick a gallery with a tight community."

Can We Talk @ Gallery Le Snoot

Speaking of serious art, other gallery events this weekend offered contrasting takes on such serious topics as time, identity and contemporary existence.

Regular gallery hoppers crowded Gallery Le Snoot at the north end of Wright Square on State Street for the opening of "Can We Talk," an exhibition of artworks dedicated to comic icon Joan Rivers.

The show featured 30 works by 16 artists handpicked by the show's conceiver, Ben Tollefson. The SCAD MFA painting student said the exhibit was born out of his personal fascination with Rivers. Specifically, "the fact that she has used humor and the pursuit of beauty to mask personal pain" inspired Tollefson to ask artists to explore, using varying mediums, "a multitude of themes, from masking, beauty, age, fashion, personal history, plastic surgery, to humor."

Tollefson elaborated on the show's many points of view: "I think on first glance, the show seems really fun and superficial, but for me it really became about individual voices responding to a seemingly irreverent theme on deeper levels." At the core of this playful homage was a serious opportunity to contemplate how we cope with life by using humor, concealing weakness and constructing identities.

Burning Time @ Ashmore Gallery

Thirty works responding to Joan Rivers and her many faces reinforced the fact that experience of time is central to experience of self and reality. Where, at least on the surface, "Can We Talk" registered these themes playfully, the exhibition "Burning Time" at the Ashmore Gallery on MLK Boulevard was a solemn meditation on how we experience and represent time.

Artist Jagrut Raval and curator Giordano Angeletti created a stunning multimedia exhibit out of image, object, time and fire. The exhibit's exquisite large-format color photos and video of the charred remains of plastic table clocks effected a melancholic reflection on time, creation and destruction. Born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, Raval sees his project as evocative of ritual, relic and myth. Drawing comparisons between the Hindu and Western cultural spheres that form his context, Raval's works operate as mementi mori, or reminders of mortality, but simultaneously convey a hope in the rejuvenation and creation emergent of passing time.

Photographs of those molten remnants of our vehicles of representing time, in concert with video loops of the burning process played forward and in reverse, achieve a ritualistic tone. Entering the gallery was akin to entering a site designated for a ceremony, with viewers taking part in a group meditation of life, of death and of the cycles we pass through, oscillating from the one to the other.

"Serious People Serious Show" had a limited run at Desotorow from 3-8 April, but keep an eye on the group's online presence at seriouspeoplestudio.com

"Can We Talk" is on view at Gallery Le Snoot through Thursday 11 April.

"Burning Time" is on view at the Ashmore Gallery until 9 April. Check out projectburningtime.tumblr.com for more info about Raval and his works.

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Jared Butler

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