Painless Parking at Pelican Palace
Pelican Palace, 5724 NE 4th avenue. Entrance by appointment, call Jay (770) 365-2521 or Bill (786) 212-3381
If Pelican Palace were a permanent art space, it would be down the street from Churchill’s Pub in a warehouse complex across the railroad tracks. It’s a loft space that houses a few artists with twenty-foot ceilings and a bar. Painless Parking is a show curator Nick Ruiz organized there. He anxiously selected over forty artists to participate, but astutely placed each work in relation to another while allowing it space to be considered its own. There are no overall messages being conveyed outside of the chosen works’ dark, droll tones and the lack of refinement makes it a pleasant detour, meandering outside the regular lines of Miami’s conspicuously aestheticized art scene.
At the entrance of the show is a sculpture by Marvin Hernandez (Nightmare on Elmo Street, or Nightmare’s Dream, 2017). It’s an Elmo doll, meticulously covered in sawdust with a dribble of wood glue drooling from its mouth, rising from a small pile of sawdust atop an MDF pedestal — a half bare, half painted, the paint carefully peeled down on all sides. It’s a nightmare in suspended animation. You can’t help but anxiously laugh at the sight of it as it incites thoughts of anthropomorphic Elmo coming to life to smother you with its dusty, drooling body.
Several works are installed in normally peripheral spaces in the show, like Kevin Arrow’s painting of a tiger hunting elk with the words “God is merciful he will not forsake you” (God is merciful he will not forsake you, 2002). It is hung a few inches from the ceiling next to an air vent of the exact same dimensions. Across the room, Franky Cruz’s self-portrait wearing a combat helmet, Something About Tim Leary And Fluctuating Fossil Fuels, 2009, is the only thing on the second floor of the space. It’s not meant to be viewed up close, but from the bottom of the stairs, as if Cruz were hiding, peering down on the rest of the show, about to throw a grenade. Dino Felipe’s mini-installation makes use of a nook in the stairwell with two works, a portable speaker attached to a homemade noise instrument on a shelf (Music Objekt, 2016) above a yellow paint tray and a photo of a refrigerator (Bhakti Baxter’s Dinner, 2015). In turn, the disjointed yet related aspects of these works resonates with other works in the show that are paired together by small related details. While Angel Garcia and Dorys Bello’s drawings, both depicting dripping bodily fluids (Gush Girl, 2017, and lmk asap, 2012), Monica Uszerowicz (Sarah’s Back, 2013) and Nicole Mijares’ (untitled, 2017) photographs, both feature diagonal shadows and hands. A small horizontal painting by Janese Weingarten, Alien Funeral (2013) is hung in a short overhang above the bar. It’s a fairytale-like depiction of a humanoid’s burial ceremony on a silvery planet landscape, taken from a series of works that are intended to be storyboards for TV show pilots that exist only in Weingarten’s mind. Under that, placed precariously on the bar counter, is a small laptop with headphones playing a video by Marlon Gazzana and Dan Brat. The video, Everybody Loved Raymond, 2017, opens up with a scene from the television show, Everybody Loves Raymond, and ends with Dan Brat getting his penis slowly severed off by Gazzana, who is wearing a Tiger costume. There’s ketchup, there’s whiskey. It’s their version of sitcom as Japanese theater. It makes sense that it’s at the bar. Two simultaneous performances also took place at the opening. Rick Diaz stood at the side of the bar for the whole night, sweating, talking to people, being himself next to a poster that read, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO”, (Don’t Tell Me What To Do, 2017). Ruiz also commissioned Juan Campusano to play trumpet for the opening. Instead, Campusano decided to blow into the trumpet at odd intervals and let anyone play it however they wanted. The presence of sweaty Rick and random pangs of trumpet throughout the night enforced the feeling that Painless Parking at Pelican Palace was a dull chronic pain that you live with in your mind, a tragicomic memory that you don’t talk about because you have nothing to say about it.
Ruiz has dug into the art repository in his mind and chosen works by his friends and colleagues and connected them to each other and the site in a wry yet sophisticated way, creating an orgiastic humor that is complex and dark.
There will be a closing reception at Pelican Palace (5724 NE 4th avenue) on January 20th, with a performance by Jan and Dave, a duo who use rock music to tell complicated pop culture narratives.
Kayla Delacerda is an artist from Miami. She is a founding member of Midnight Thrift.