Home / A&E / Art Critic Review / The Pleasures of Skully Gustafson’s ‘Plastic Alchemy’

The Pleasures of Skully Gustafson’s ‘Plastic Alchemy’

Expression, abstraction and vivid hues at Pitch Project Lounge

Dec. 13, 2016
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The term “alchemy” has a deliciously mysterious character, like something dark and shimmering and golden. In the solo exhibition by Skully Gustafson titled “Plastic Alchemy,” it is all of those things, plus a whole lot of bright, exuberant energy propelling each of the 20 or so paintings. They are fairly large and wrap around the white walls of The Pitch Project Lounge like a frieze of wild delights. The paintings hang on the walls, but even the room pillars are decorated in the spirit of the art.  

Sometimes the subjects are sensual people, sometimes an imagined city, sometimes a lunar dream. They all have Gustafson’s sense of expression, abstraction and vivid hues. Any narrative seems to be more of a suggestion; the visitor can freely let their mind wander into any number of directions. In his painting Lorca Night, a woman in black Spanish garb peers out with giant blue eyes from a brilliant yellow background. She holds a sparkling red candle, and in front of her are small lights like purplish votives. It evokes poetry and mystery; the shades of the Spanish poet and esoterica of spirit and history.

This evocative nature of imagery is intriguing, but what is especially notable is the solid nature of Gustafson’s artistic technique. While a canvas might have a brilliant array of colors, his sense of arrangement and orchestration through subtle layers and deft modulations of tonality draw subject and execution together tightly without diminishing any sense of freedom.

The Pitch Project also houses artists’ studios and is supported by the adjacent Brenner Brewing headquarters and taproom. Gustafson’s show kicks off a series that will showcase the work of artists commissioned to design beer labels for Brenner Brewing Co. Gustafson’s label graces bottles of Butterfly Farts Citrus Ale and shows a delicate derrière surrounded by fluttering butterflies. Like Gustafson’s art, it is subversive and sexy—but it is even more rewarding to see art in person in “Plastic Alchemy”. As a special addition to the exhibition, Skully Gustafson will host a performance in the Pitch Project Lounge on Thursday, Dec. 15 from 7-8 p.m.

Through Dec. 31 in The Pitch Project Lounge, 706 S. Fifth St.

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