Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Inspired Art: "Montana (erased)" by Buddy Bunting

Dawn Quinn reviews Montana (erased) by Buddy Bunting in the current Tacoma Weekly: http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/art/inspired_art/

Inspired Art by Dawn Quinn
Published on Wed, October 27, 2010

Buddy Bunting depicts ‘Montana (erased)’ at the Telephone Room.

Seattle artist Buddy Bunting takes a lot of road trips. In traveling the country, he returns home inspired to work on pieces that encapsulate what he has seen. The Telephone Room Gallery’s newest show, “Montana (erased),” highlights pieces and items he has made and found on a trip to the “Treasure State.”

One element of the exhibit that ties in with the Telephone Room Gallery is a voicemail that Bunting had received while he was away that prompted and inspired the works. According to the gallery’s press release on the show, “an erroneously left answering machine message detailing a stranger’s travels through Montana form the basis for Buddy Bunting’s ‘Montana (erased)’ – continuing the artist’s exploration of the western landscape, its mythology of transcendence, openness and expansion.”

The message was a coincidence, and Bunting kept it on his phone for quite some time. Fellow Washington artist Nicholas Nyland told Bunting about the Telephone Room Gallery and he deemed it the perfect place for his newest show. In the message, the woman relays a past trip during the 1960s in which she and her boyfriend visited and were not met with the warmest reception, which led to them driving through the state and not staying.

On the left wall of the space, eight oil-based pieces don the walls on paper, cardboard and other materials. A bird, train, rocks piled high in the middle of an idyllic valley, sunrise over the horizon, a vintage van, a lone, tall, aging building in the middle of nowhere, trees and a double payphone at night, as seen at a gas station all combine to form images that Bunting likely came across often in his travels, and that together form a personal story.

Straight ahead into the gallery, shelves house more pieces, found and formed by Bunting. A detailed rocky canyon and an ink and pencil depiction of a motor home with “Creation or Bust” and “Honk 4 Jesus” donning the sides frame a hexagonal vase filled with brown flowers. Below, more prints, this time colorful, rocks likely picked up on the road, a landscape photo filled with trees, Book of Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets, a National Geographic issue from July 1971 and a phone armed with the infamous voice message fill up the rest of the shelves.

To the right, 10 pieces fill up the expanse of the sea foam green wall. An oil colored piece of canyons tops the left side, with simple color for the sky and brown landscape. Below, five pieces of paper that look as if torn from a Moleskine notebook are all placed in succession after the other with each utilizing only one color and each highlight a store sign or a car seen along the road.

The middle and right side of the wall feature three acrylic paintings, each varying greatly in content. The first has two children’s heads and below, another scenery shot of Montana’s mountain ranges fill the piece with jagged rocks jutting up, green moss covering them and a pale blue sky peeking through with clouds interspersed. To the right, a vivid interpretation of an empty gas station at night shows the brightness of the pumps and the lights of the shop, multi-colored tints that reflect from the ground and the ceiling and all together create an entrancing shot. A print of St. Francis in the dessert that Bunting possibly pulled out of a catalog rounds up the pieces on the wall.

Visitors to Bunting’s show should try to listen to the voicemail message before checking out the other elements, as it is what created the framework for every piece included. Upon playing, listeners will hear a story of a woman being in a remote area and a completely different world than she is used to. Much of Bunting’s works are about Western spaces and feelings of isolation, so the message appearing on his machine when it did was a fateful reminder of his intents and visit. The show fully utilizes the Telephone Room Gallery’s minimalist space and is an opportunity to take in new works from a renowned Northwest artist.

“Montana (erased)” will be on view at the Telephone Room Gallery starting on the night of the show’s opening, Nov. 5, which takes place from 6-10 p.m. and will show through Nov. 30. The pieces are viewable by appointment almost anytime, just e-mail at thetelephoneroom@gmail.com to schedule a time/day. For more information, visit http://thetelephoneroom.blogspot.com/ or “like” the Telephone Room Gallery on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Telephone.Room.Gallery).

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