Scott and Tyson Reeder’s French Thoughts at Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco

Beautiful Decay Magazine
March 4, 2006

It is more than uncommon to find two siblings presenting solo exhibitions simultaneously, but not if they are Milwaukee-based brothers Scott and Tyson Reeder. The two have been long-time collaborators and known for finding inventive modes of presenting art like their ongoing work with General Store, Milwaukee’s staple art space. Occupying both 389 and 395 Valencia St., their show, French Thoughts, presents new sculptures, drawings, and a new collaborative 20-minute video. Hanging in the 395 space are ten of Tyson’s new paintings. Created in gouache and colored pencil on paper, the works depict street scenes with the color palette of the Riviera, a murky bog, and six portraits of stereotypically French subjects like standard poodles, ornate umbrellas, and sweaters fit for dreary Paris days.

Yellow Palace (2005) is one work that demonstrates Tyson at his most painterly. A large weathered yellow building is set upon a muddy street. Where below a pack of poodles has gathered under a ragged canopy. Tyson has layered the painting with light washes of pastel hues, portions of colored pencil that add a scratchy texture, and globs of dried goauche to highlight the structure’s architectural features. Lack of detail makes Tyson’s work so charismatic, each work intentionally left undecided between a fleeting study and elegant expression.

In contrast to his brother’s paintings are Scott’s conceptual untitled ink on paper and gum on paper works. Pieces with teeth marks and marbleized-in-the-mouth colors are mashed onto drawing paper to form a candy constellation. The result is framed pieces of anti-art that equate drawing to the underside of grade school desks. However, Scott’s ink on paper works offer more formal exploration. These large cartoony drawings feature impossible staircases with each landing and walkway filled with objects such as soft drink cups, file cabinets, toilet paper, and non-de-script lumps with smiling faces. Each of the drawings includes focal scenes of peculiar activity, in one, three bears struggle to hold a mirror so a woman can videotape herself, and in another, a chemist works diligently in her lab.

Searching for a framework from which dissect the Reeders’ art is fruitless, and maybe even inappropriate. They avoid it and continually create work that rejects such a conventional strategy. Instead, the two revel in spontaneity, as showcased by their opening night performances where Scott, dressed in a one piece flower costume, dangled precariously aloft the gallery’s entryway. Tyson, hidden in a pedestal with only his nose protruding from a small hole, breathed into an effected microphone creating an audio experience akin to a droning concert of didgeridoos. The brothers defiantly create alternatives to hum-drum artmaking by presenting exhibitions designed to dumbfound. -Marc LeBlanc


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