The Spectacular of Vernacular

January 14, 2012March 18, 2012

Inspired by artist Mike Kelley’s observation that “the mass art of today is the folk art of tomorrow,” The Spectacular of Vernacular embraces the rustic, the folkloric, and the humbly homemade as well as the crass clash of street spectacle and commercial culture.

It explores the role of vernacular forms in some 40 works by more than two dozen contemporary artists, which run the aesthetic gamut: the hand-crafted work of Aaron Spangler juxtaposes with Lari Pittman’s carnivalesque day-glo paintings; Marc Swanson’s glittering trophy heads with Rachel Harrison’s urban relics. Also on view are photographs from William Eggleston and Shannon Ebner, who both revel in the signage and other elements of roadside culture.

Focusing on pieces made since the 1970s, the exhibition shows how the vernacular, in its very ubiquity—its integration into home life, social rituals, and sense of place—is an ongoing fascination for artists. With artworks that draw from such diverse sources as local architecture, amateur photographs, and handmade domestic items, it’s suggestive of a long, meandering road trip through the emblems and eyesores of everyday culture, replete with tourist destinations and outmoded hotels.

The Spectacular of Vernacular is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and is made possible by generous support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Helen and Peter Warwick, and Margaret and Angus Wurtele.

The exhibition of The Spectacular of Vernacular at the Ackland Art Museum is made possible by the James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Fund for Contemporary Art. Additional support provided by the William Hayes Ackland Trust, and friends and members of the Ackland Art Museum. Public programs are supported by Drs. Leena and Sheldon Peck, Ruby Lerner, and Wayne Vaughn and Shirley Drechsel.

Lari Pittman, American, born 1952: Untitled #30 (A Decorated Chronology of Insistence and Resignation), 1994; acrylic, enamel, and glitter on two wood panels. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles. © Lari Pittman.