Sydney Walters Reviews Bettina Hubby’s Panacea Project on Art and Cake 9.28.17

“The Panacea Project” Nudges Funny Bones at Werkartz

By Sydney Walters

Through September 30th

Artist Bettina Hubby projects an astute lesson of survival into the art game: humor is necessary. While humor becomes more biting and sarcastic in media, The Panacea Project rejects this defensive and deflective humor and charges forth with a delightful eruption of unadulterated bliss. “I’m just trying to bombard people with joyous imagery and comedy art that deals with humor and happiness…I am also using it as a reaction of what is going on in the world. We all need escapism and joy so my current body of work not so subtlety manipulates the viewer into having more joy.”

In one of her pieces, Hubby, With Animals, Hubby poses herself nearly nude in a paper doll like fashion with arms and legs slightly apart. She arranges a costume of pictures of what she calls “noble and cute animals.” An owl, panda, sloth, fox, giraffe and many more gaze in the same coy way Hubby confronts the viewer. In her virtual reality piece, a headset and VR equipment transport the viewer into a 360-degree bubble of cuteness. Dozens of animal videos of creatures with excessive fluff or cross-species friendships are spliced in a globe like on overreaching IMAX screen. Purring and soft cooing sounds of the animals are heard through the headset. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who could experience Bliss, Everywhere and not break into a smile.

Adrienne Adar also captures sound in a unique way by putting microphones in plants and amplifying the sounds they make as they are blown by fans. These indoor plants, NASA certified air purifiers, make an insulated space livable. It is a reminder of the symbiotic relationship between man and Mother Earth. And although this installation points out principle awareness to nature, other works in Panacea exist for sheer jocularity.

For example, in Sloppy Grip, Alex Miller creates a cumbersome fountain spouting red wine. A large ceramic hand tilts a goblet at a slant so that wine pours down this Dionysian arm and into a basin. Wine splatters on the pedestal and wall and the fermented smell of wine surrounds the area. On one hand, it is a kind of vanitas sculpture. The rank smell of the wine drifting up serves as a reminder that this too shall pass. Yet it’s clunky composition is an intentional aversion to Neo-Classicism thus inciting a playful paradox.

Like Sloppy Grip, many of these artists have a somber undertow beneath a whimsical current. As previously mentioned, Adrienne Adar is intrigued by a vision of complete home containment and the quality of life inside. Another artist, Carl Berg edits together a fifteen-minute video of him making baskets with many of them being shot from half-court at a park basketball court. What he does not include are all the times he does not make the shot. What the viewer sees is success and what is omitted are all of the failures between each success.

Other artists explore the beauty behind rainbows, hugs, balloons, streaking and other parodies.

As a whole, The Panacea Project throws off the rigidity of the art world and highlights a few artists who value camaraderie over competition. Bettina Hubby says, “remembering to be joyous and generous is a practice.” And while the starving artist or artist in turmoil can become paralyzed with the expectation of making serious or austere art, she asks, “Why be fearful in having joy or humor as a message in your work?”

The Panacea Project presented by Klowden Mann is open until September 30th and features the work of Adrienne Adar, Michael G. Bauer, Nancy Barber, Carl Berg, Agnes Bolt, Cal Clements, Michael Dee, Bob Dornberger, Amanda Yates Garcia, Emma Gray, Bettina Hubby, Alex Miller, Jeremy Shockley, Joe Sola, William Stone and Nicola Vruwink.

Werkartz is located at 927 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hours are Thursday-Saturday from 12-6pm

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