Stars and Strip Malls - Cover 3/4/04
Cover Photos by Kory Vergets
The Aura of Commercial Americana
Jason Chase´s Carnival
whirlwind view of reality. - Photos by Kory
Harm and Hammer, another
on canvas by Jason Chase.
Katie´s Gummies, oil on
on loan from the collection of Katie Johnston.
taste of nostalgia tinged with dark humor, one should drop in
Harbor Art Gallery to see Jason Chase's visions of suburban
"Stars and Strip Malls." Using bold, bright splashes of color
the motifs of commercial America from the 1940s to the 1960s,
we get a
somewhat darker and more cynical view of that time.
One particular piece I loved was
Gummie's, apolitical in
scope, but fun and vibrant. With layer upon layer of
brilliantly colored gummy bears, the painting seems so
viewers should restrain themselves from trying to lick the
However, Harm & Hammer doesn't
be nearly as cute. At
first glance, the image appears to be a hand holding an
glass soda bottle, in this case orange Crush, in front of a
innocuous looking advertisement for Arm & Hammer Baking
the burning, soaked rag pouring out of the mouth of the bottle
tips the viewer off to the fact that it is, indeed, a Molotov
This gives a darker cant to the slogan above, "A house-full of
One gets the same feeling from the
Super Bang featuring what
looks like an upside-down light bulb but is actually a bomb,
with 48 shots. The most disturbing part is not the picture but
subject matter is actually a mock-up of a child's toy.
Others are more subtle, describing
typical suburban settings, such
as the parking lot in Suburban Landscape. This panoramic
features a strip mall dominating the background while a large
in the foreground. It's one of the pieces that is easier on
showing an idealized version of normalcy: nearly cloudless
in a sunny and pristine setting.
In his artist's statement, Chase
the commercial slant in
his work, "Some of my earliest visual memories are the colors
cereal aisle flashing by me. Constant exposure to advertising
and Saturday morning cartoons not only sold me products, it
sold me the
power of the visual. It started an appetite that I still have
bright, flashy, bold images that are familiar to anyone in
Carnival shows a merry-go-round
by in a blur of motion. A
little girl looks back, almost in fright it seems, shouting,
little boy looks ahead, waving his hands in the air in
shadowy images of the horses are eerily mirrored outside the
reality of the merry-go-round. Each of Chase's scenes appears
to have a
second meaning if the viewer looks long enough.
Chase takes on the spectre of
America by making his logos and
bubbly motifs larger than life. In blowing up his visions of
he mocks the very perfection that advertisers are always
trying to push
on an avid, gullible populace.
"Because the images I use have so
completely saturated our lives, I
want everyone who sees my paintings to relate to them, to be
art and to contemplate the world they live in."
"Stars and Stripmalls" will be on
until March 24 in the Harbor Art Gallery.