Galleries

Cheryl Means Camp, Bling, Parties & Garfield Tattoos

by Hrag Vartanian on August 25, 2011

The members of Cheryl, (left to right) Stina Puotinen, Nick Schiarizzi, Destiny Pierce and Sarah Van Buren. (photos by the author)

This is the last weekend to visit performance art/party collective Cheryl‘s show on Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue, where they have set up shop in the Rawson Projects (339 Bedford Ave) space during the second half of August.

This quirky group of artists with an obvious affection for glitter, masks and videos are silkscreening tshirts ($20) and totes, screening videos and selling the artifacts/sculptures from their parties over the years.

Entering Cheryl's temporary liar at Rawson Projects.

The press release describes them as “New York City’s most insane disco bloodbath dance party and art collective” but I would suggest you think more art school club kids meets Hello Kitty. They produce videos that are wonderfully campy and their logo, which portrays a cat head, gives you a hint that they purr-fer a lot feline imagery in the mix.

Cheryl’s aesthetic jiggers with music video and drag queen culture, but the results don’t feel self-conscious as much as somewhat reserved, like they are conscious of being observed and a little uncomfortable in the spotlight, more like a comedic skit than some type of revolutionary exposé.

A cluster of cat masks on the wall of the gallery.

The group is inviting visitors to pose as critics for their next party video that will feature people looks at art disapprovingly. “Everyone’s a Critic” is written in neon pink letters above a backdrop that has a video camera focused on it. I added a horrified gasp to the mix, which in my field was an easy emotion to feign.

An incognito cat sculpture.

The atmosphere in the gallery is festive and you expect the absurd to occur … and it did. While I was chatting with two of the artists inside, Van Buren, who was doling out Garfield “tattoos” using a sharpie was outside performing her craft when she encountered another “tattoo artist” also offering free sharpie-rific Garfield tattoos to passersby.

Two Garfield "tattoo artists" on Bedford? What are the chances.

“Only in Williamsburg” I said to Schiarizzi as I watched in amazement as a young woman got a cat from each artist on her back.

The collective doesn’t couch their work in relational aesthetics or any theory-driven ideas. They seem to love the ability to transform the mundane to something special. It’s a skill worth appreciating.

CHERYL at Rawson Projects (339 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) continues until Sunday, August 28 from 1 to 6pm.

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