The Old Science Museum, Melbourne • Jan 23-24
The old Museum of Science on Highland Avenue was a half-hearted attempt that I’m sure wowed the citizens of the ’60s but whose efforts at creating Interest in Science in its visitors resulted in at best creating nostalgic memories. At this art show, I heard equally about the art on display and about once-favorite displays.
Still, things were off to a good start as we walked up the street to the venue. Pouring out the door was an acoustic jangle, anchored by an unmistakable double bass, that made it sound like perhaps, odds against, the promoters had booked the Asylum Street Spankers, or a reasonable facsimile (nb: the latter doesn’t exist). It was the Cook Trio, with a pair of mop-topped brothers (Ian and Jason Cook) on acoustic guitars and a stolid Kyle Jones on the upright. On their website, they speak lovingly of the gypsy jazz tradition (think Django Reinhardt), which they carry out faithfully. The fretboard pyrotechnics were top-notch and along with Reinhardt brought to mind flashes of stratospheric flatpickers like Jimmy Bryant and Joe Maphis. The band brought an acoustic energy that was electric to the pre-party showing we were attending.
The theme was “Robot Love” and the place was chock-a-block with interesting work from the area’s young and hungry, some centered about the theme but most not. My friend (and sometime-collaborator) John Sluder had a couple of photos on display, including one of a fritzing toaster and its semi-explicit user which should have received more attention in a show called Robot Love. Casey DeCotis also had work of note, including a largish canvas of ammo clips, and Gary Sheron presented some hopped-up bicycles, with semi-circular, heart-shaped and ultra-stretch frames, that made an artistic statement and looked fun to ride. A personal favorite was a painting of a Rubik’s-cube solving octopus, by Patrick Maxcy.
Other artifacts of note but whose originators I sadly didn’t write down included a 7-foot all-glass robot with a beating red rice-paper heart, and some fantastically stratified plywood sculptures. There was also a stationary bicycle out back which would light up a dim red dome when pedaled, rescued from the museum’s gutting — a real nostalgia magnet, and a nice touch.
The idea for Robot Love was born out of the success of a previous show last November by curating entity 321 Agency, a new media outfit in Melbourne, Florida. Rather than wait a full year for their next such outing, and based on the thumping beat of a plaything song titled “Robots Love Music,” the momentum, concept and venue for this event came together to put together this forward-looking exhibition, something that’s been missing from the area for a long time, if it ever existed.
The two nights of the exhibition following the pre-party featured different types of music (DJs and live acts), a cash bar, and an all-night dance party. Sorry to say I missed them, but I’m sure they were events in and of themselves. I’m hoping all the creative folks behind this enterprise keep the ball rolling and that events like this become regular.