Kaneko Gallery ends the semester with a lowbrow bang


Lindsey Martin

"Untitled," by Alex Pardee, mixed media on board.

Lindsey Martin and Lindsey Martin

Art professor Ken Magri is a fan of lowbrow art, but would rather it go by a different name.

“I’m trying to murder the word lowbrow,” said Magri.

“Postmodern Extinction,” the James Kaneko Gallery’s last show of the fall 2014 semester, drew a large crowd at the opening reception on Monday, where artists spoke about what it means to be categorized as lowbrow.

Lowbrow art, also known as pop surrealism, was originally influenced by comic books, hot rods and punk music of the 1970s, but has now branched off into other categories of pop culture, like tattoo art, graffiti and street art.

The term lowbrow literally comes from the low eyebrow the highly sophisticated would cast down at artists of this sub genre.

Magri explained that in 10 to 20 years there will be a new name for lowbrow art, which is now in high demand and shown in art galleries all over the world.

“For these artists, it’s hard to know what you are when you’re in the middle of a historic period,” said Magri.

Artists Kim Scott, John Berger, Bruce Gossett, Robert Bowen and Alex Pardee were all featured in the show, although only Scott, Berger and Gossett were present at the reception.

Scott, whose pieces show rare cuts of red meat with facial features against colorful backgrounds, explained that lowbrow art developed from craft based professions like tattooing and auto painting.

Even in the 1970s when she was an ARC student, Scott painted meat with faces.

“I like making something beautiful to pull you in and then I poke you in the eye when you get close,” Scott said.

Berger, whose art has been described as “David Lynch meets Gary Larson,” draws his influence from animals and poppy comic books.

He has a degree in zoology that is apparent in his works that feature colorful cartoon animals with distinct expressions on their faces.

Gallery director Mick Sheldon talked about how the first time he ever heard the word lowbrow was in the presence of former ARC student, Gossett.

“It’s a very punk rock stance — we don’t really care if you like it,” said Gossett of lowbrow artists.

“Postmodern Extinction” is the last show of the semester for the gallery and will be open until Dec. 11.