Lodge members meet every Wednesday night and make art together, often working on each other's drawings. The finished products, of which hundreds are on view, are dated and deposited into one of four suitcases marked with ranked symbols: a shining sun for the "very best," a heart for "second best," a sad rain cloud for "the bad ones," and a skull and crossbones for "those works deemed so terrible they must be destroyed." On the first Saturday of the show, as two members clad in masks played drum and guitar, another in a bear costume selected audience members, me included, to feed the "terrible" drawings into a platypus with a paper shredder in its beak. (I must admit the drawing I shredded was pretty bad.)
If the Lodge has a style, it combines the stream of consciousness of Borofsky, the ease of Scher, the darkness of Pettibon, the cartoonishness of Crumb, and the humor of Wegman. The group counts George Burns, Steve Martin, Dante, Fischli & Weiss, Bosch, Blake, Fluxus, and surrealism as influences. Often, all this adds up to is cuteness. But a lot of good work does break through.
photo: Robin Holland
This amazing, dizzying thing: suitcases and collaborative drawings in the Drawing Center's Royal Art Lodge installation
All are good artists, but for my money Pylypchuk, who excels at collaging bits of wood or felt together, and has the greatest sense of materials and form, is the best of the lot (a show of his new work just opened at Friedrich Petzel). As for the rest, Dzama has a tight hand that tends toward inventories or sexually charged scenes involving hybrid creatures. Ironically, his best work here is a creamy black-and-white painting that suggests he should investigate this medium much more. Farber is as tight as Dzama but uses brighter color and has a more coherent sense of narrative. Dumontier has a nice, minimalist's touch. Drue Langlois is good at dioramas, and Hollie Dzama's style is fashion-like and generic, but OK. Myles's work reminds me of Edward Gorey's, and Williams is a collagist with promise.
Someday the Royal Art Lodge, like most collaboratives, will change members or break up. Or maybe it won't. After all, six years is already a long time. What makes this show so lively is all the freedom in evidence. That, and the fact that, as Dzama puts it, "we have no agenda. We just like to draw."