Pick of the Week
For those of us who grew up in America in the second half of the 20th century, especially the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, it would have been impossible to go through middle or high school without stumbling across certain staple school stationery supplies. One such item, practically ubiquitous (and commercially durable) was the Pee-Chee All Season Portfolio. This was a roughly 9 x 12-inch cardboard folder with interior flaps to form folds to catch clips of papers stashed inside. The original color was a kind of buff ‘peach’ – hence the name. The covers front and back were illustrated with ‘action’ sketches of high school sports and related activities, and the inside pockets were printed with compact reference indexes. Covers frequently filled up with random numbers, mash notes, doodles and embellishments upon the faintly ridiculous illustrations themselves. In short, the ‘project portfolio’ became yet another vehicle for teenage distractions, obsessions and preoccupations. Patrick Martinez, who has an acute talent for spotting cultural subtexts and foregrounding their pathologies in several media (painting, sculpture, ceramic and neon), has seized upon the exuberant and aspirational aspects of these original illustrations to fill in a few ‘elaborations,’ ‘embellishments,’ and corrections of his own. In the ‘corrected’ Martinez illustrations, the path to graduation is a minefield. A goal charge down a football field is trailed by a policeman in hot pursuit with a drawn weapon. A tackle morphs into a brutal handcuffing. Martinez offers a few revisions to the inside pocket “Useful Information,” too – including Miranda rights and guidelines for negotiating a traffic stop or arrest – in another series of text images. Still, as with their inspiration, youthful daydreams and fantasy yield their own hopeful notes. Culture heroes and icons of resistance make their insistent appearance. A relay race turned police chase morphs again with the cop clutching an actual relay baton instead of his billyclub – as if to defect to that aspirational race we all should all be heartened to join.
Charlie James Gallery
969 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Show runs thru February 18, 2017