Talking with Rick Jones, one of the members of the less than one-year-old Thread art collective, the word "snobby" comes up, along with the words "hipster" and "scene." I ask if he's OK with using those terms to describe his ambitious crew of 20-something local artists, and he shrugs in approval, and my understanding becomes clear. Why not call it like it is, especially when it's catching on.
Founded last March by like-minded artists, Thread has a common profile among its 10 members: They're mostly post-school art professionals under the age of 30 who've chosen Orlando as the market to propel their careers, bypassing or over-and-done-with excursions to major art markets such as New York City. They want to be recognized for their talent and skill, and to attract and build a base of appreciators who have purchase power and a desire to be part of a hipster social scene.
Over the last nine months, Thread has thrown several "art events" to get the process rolling, and the results have hit the target. They attract a young professional crowd that's growing along with the group's profile, and hopefully more sales will follow. (Price tags at this show are $700 or less.) In the meantime, Thread is making its mark on the downtown art scene, and the timing coincides with downtown's own architectural change of direction — the sky's the limit, apparently.
The CityArts Factory invited Thread to headline its January Third Thursday event, which is a tad convoluted. Essentially, what you can expect to see at the opening reception is new works by eight of Thread's members (several members have been added, and two originals have relocated to Miami and aren't showing at this exhibit), plus several invited guests of Thread, as well as several emerging artists from outside Florida invited by CityArts.
The freshly arranged collection hangs on the walls of what's officially known as the Kiene/Quigley Community Gallery, but is really a high-ceilinged hallway that cuts through the first floor of CityArts, front to back, and contains off-to-the-side nooks.
Upon entering the building, you'll encounter, to the left, one of Mike Schweizer's black-hole mappings and a Rick Jones primitive urban jungle. On the right, Jen O'Malley's textural photo landscapes, created from colorful fabric and rich brown soil, command attention.
Back to the left, there's no escaping Daniel Yovino's paintings. They're more like signs, with a partial view of the painting underneath visible only through the stacked lettering: "IMA/GEN/IOU/S," reads one; "YOUR/ALO/OSER" reads another. The letters open a window onto the image of a young man's face on one, as well as his guitar in play on the other.
The front nook is captivated by Jonathan Scarboro's sculpture, which appears like a corner table dripping in a melted-down rainbow, created by applying heat to different flavors of Jolly Ranchers that oozed together and dripped before hardening. In the same room, a strip of photo stills from a DVD, basically capturing a stripping-down female torso, are from a project by Nelson Hallonquist, who also features a DVD loop at the exhibition that wasn't available for preview but will be offered for sale.
Midway down the hallway, Carson Wampler's photo interiors play games with the mind. They appear to be minimally decorated rooms, featuring one brilliant radiation of light that emphasizes the edgy connections of ceilings to walls to floors. They are actually model-size constructions, and three of four photos in this collection feature an anteroom of sorts, evoking a sense of the darker self that's kept private from the main room. Across the way, space was being held for muted pastel-colored abstracts by Adam Prince that hadn't yet joined the display.
Whimsical sculptures by guests close the presentation in the hidden back corner, not the least of which is a Barbie-mobile that's an homage to the icon of young girls and all the pink-hued, furry, frilly accessories they could ever fantasize about, including long blond tresses that serve as the tassels coming out of the handlebars.
To join the Thread collective, Jones says, "It would be difficult: We all have to like their art; we all have to like them." But it's at their inclusive parties that they mix it up for social firstname.lastname@example.org